Roadside Attractions

| July 03, 2012

An amazing Pete-built collection


‘Uncle Pete’ Norman

Adorning the walls of Uncle Pete’s Truck Stop at I-40 and Sparta Pike in Lebanon, Tenn., is a collection of 4,875 coffee cups. And still counting, says owner “Uncle Pete” Norman.

Uncle Pete’s Truck Stop hosted Overdrive contributing editor Carolyn Magner’s interview with trucking country singer Aaron Tippin (with his son, Tom), part of our sister magazine Truckers News’ Celebrity Series. Scan the QR code to pull up the video on your smartphone. Otherwise, find it at

“Never bought one, but I’ve drank out of every one,” he says.

When Norman took over the business, “we had about six coffee cups” that weren’t broken, he says, so an employee offered up some she’d been planning to sell. When they finally ordered new mugs, Norman adds, they set the old ones in window ledges. Drivers started asking if he was collecting coffee cups.”

“We’re going after the Guinness World Record,” Norman would reply. Customers took that seriously and brought cups to add. After 21 years, they line the upper parts of nearly every wall.

“We have cups from 44 countries, every state and all U.S. islands and territories,” says Norman.








Out of service on both sides of border


Jabin Bogan was detained April 19 by Mexican authorities after crossing into Juarez.

The weird case of Jabin Bogan — the U.S. driver who was arrested in Mexico while attempting to turn around at the border with his load of ammunition destined for Phoenix — got weirder in May. The U.S. DOT ordered Bogan’s carrier, Texas-based Demco Express, to shut down after a safety investigation. The carrier’s public CSA rankings were dismal: all but one above 97 out of a possible 100. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration made note of 10 instances of Demco drivers operating without a CDL in the past year alone.

Reactions to the news ranged from “no surprise” to applauding FMCSA for doing its job to notes of hope that drivers will continue to rally around Bogan, who faces a potential 30-year conviction for arms smuggling. See Page 75 for an update on Bogan’s case, and search Bogan’s name on for further coverage.



When patriotism turns into ‘trouble’


Driver and military veteran David Ray Thornburg took matters into his own hands when he saw a barren flagpole at a truck stop in Denton, Texas, on Memorial Day. With his video camera trained on himself, Thornburg drove to a nearby Walmart, convinced managers to donate a flag, took it to the truck stop and climbed the flagpole to hang it. The truck stop ultimately took it down, citing private property concerns — the stop’s operator saying he felt Thornburg was out to “make trouble,” as reported WFAA in Houston. Find links to WFAA’s report and Thornburg’s vid in the May 30 entry on our Overdrive Extra staff blog:



A Place in the Sun


This photo of a 28-year veteran truck driver was published with a medical study about extended exposure to the sun.

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a study on “unilateral dermatoheliosis,” illustrated by the pronounced thickening of the skin on the side of a driver’s face most exposed to the sun. This brought new interest to skin protection measures, especially as it came on the heels of news from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The agency in April dispelled road rumor that all window tinting in interstate-hauling Class 8s was illegal, explaining that films letting in more than 70 percent of visible light are kosher for side- and rear-window glass.

One protective product, Ultragard UV clear film, blocks 99 percent of all ultraviolet light, claims maker Solar Gard. Find an interview with Solar Gard’s Larry Constantin, including an installation video, in the May 8 post to the Channel 19 blog.





Since we profiled Overdrive 2011 Owner-Operator of the Year Dan Heister, he’s made progress on the big-block motor he’d then recently located to put into the early-‘70s model Ford Gran Torino he and son Jake are fitting up for the local racetracks. He recently fired it up for guests with a roaring drive near his Tennessee Ridge, Tenn., home. Next up – racing stripes, possibly a new radiator, and he’s off to the tracks. Catch more from our visit with him in the May 28 blog post.

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