Roadside Attractions

Overdrive Staff | February 01, 2012

 

Monthly truck loan payment

The highest owner-operator truck note was $3,575 in a recent study done by the Mack-Blackwell Rural Transportation Center at the University of Arkansas.

* Percentages do not add to 100 percent due to rounding

 

 

Jan. 9, 2012 diesel price averages

FUEL SURCHARGE INDEX (www.FuelSurchargeIndex.org) prices are collected daily from more than 5,500 truck stops and averaged along specific routes.

 

 

Creature Comforts

Fifth-generation driver Ronnie Graves has put his own stamp on his family’s trucking tradition ever since he first sat in a truck cab as an infant in his father’s lap. Graves, a native of Sumter County, Fla., lost his left leg as a youth, but the loss served as a challenge, not a detriment, to work hard and help those in need, such as 9,700 animals in the last two years alone.

In 2011, Ronnie Graves was honored with the top responder award from Florida’s Agricultural Response Team for using his trucking resources in volunteer animal rescue efforts.

He was a long-haul trucker until 1979, when he became a full-time prosthetist and orthotist, though he kept his CDL. In 1998, after a series of devastating wildfires in Florida, he was enlisted to haul animals for the first time. He and 15 friends built compounds to house the rescued animals, and soon the State Agriculture Department and the Humane Society become involved. Graves and his wife started the Sumter Disaster Animal Response Team in 2004 after rescuing animals in Punta Corda, Fla., in Hurricane Charley’s wake.

“I had a garage full of Ford Mustangs and sold all but one,” he says, to finance the rescue equipment, including two tractor-trailers. One 53-foot trailer has 84 stainless steel kennels, four heating and cooling units, oxygen monitors, carbon dioxide monitors, living quarters for a handler and other custom features.

Graves’ rescues include dogs and cats after Hurricane Katrina and pelicans following the BP oil spill. “I transported 232 rabbits once,” he says. “Thank goodness they were all fixed.”

Those interested in being a part of the operation can find information at sumterdart.org. — Elizabeth Manning

 

TRUCK GALLERY

Make a wish

Leola, Pa., resident Lamar Buckwalter, former flatbed hauler and now dispatcher for JRC Transportation, uses his 2000 Peterbilt 379 in Make-a-Wish Foundation events, including a Mother’s Day convoy in Lancaster County each year. Buckwalter worked the truck full-time before retiring two years ago. The truck is powered by a 500-hp Caterpillar and an 18-speed transmission.

 

Port Orange special

This 1990 Peterbilt 379 hauls produce and seafood weekly between Florida and New York. The pride of owner-operator David Adorno Jr. of Port Orange, Fla., it’s equipped with a 400-hp Cummins and a 15-speed transmission. Adorno’s rig also has a pair of train horns, installed by its previous owner. Accordingly, it boasts the tag “Gone Like a Freight Train” on the back of the sleeper.

 

Hot Wheels

“I just wanted something different,” Midwest flatbed hauler Rich Carlson says of his 2005 Peterbilt 379’s aftermarket touches. “I wanted to make the job a little more fun.” Carlson, of Bolingbrook, Ill., has added 7-inch stacks, a 22-inch flip bumper, flamed fenders and lowered the truck’s suspension. It’s powered by a 475-hp Caterpillar and an 18-speed transmission.

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