Trucker of the Month
By Lanier Norville
Whether he’s in a truck, bus or muscle car, or atop his Harley-Davidson, Frank Hockaday loves being on the road. He says it doesn’t matter what kind of vehicle it is, just as long as it goes.
Others may recognize his flare for all things mobile. Hockaday’s collection includes two 1964 Ford Galaxies, a 1972 Corvette convertible, a 1976 “Smoky & the Bandit”- style Pontiac Trans Am and two Harley-Davidsons. His 2000 Peterbilt 379 has an interior accented with chrome, a custom grille, fenders, headlights and light bar – quite an impressive rig considering he hauls aluminum and steel full-time with his own flatbed.
“Guys ask me all the time, ‘Do you take that to shows?’ And I say no. I don’t have anything to prove, it’s just something for me,” Hockaday says.
The 62-year-old owner-operator has made working on trucks, cars and motorcycles his lifelong hobby and driving his longtime career. In his 29 years as an owner-operator, leased to CRST Malone, he has been accident-free and has received two safety awards from the company. He’s overhauled the engine and transmission on all three trucks he’s owned and fixed other owner-operators’ rigs at roadside. He spent 10 years restoring his 1972 Corvette from the suspension up, and he’s put in six months so far on the Trans Am.
“They’re never done,” he says. “There’s always more I want to do.”
His love of all things automotive and trucking began on a trip to Kansas in his dad’s International when he was in grade school. The two rode from their hometown, Moline, Ill., Hockaday’s lifelong home, hauling a load of corn.
“The motor blew up and he had to bring me back home on a bus. It was idyllic to me,” Hockaday says. He recalls watching his father bent over the engine, diagnosing the problem, and a tow truck pulling the rig away.
“He was a gearhead, too,” Hockaday says of his father. “He taught me everything I know mechanically.”
Still, Hockaday wasn’t sure he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps as an owner-operator. After graduating from Moline High School in 1966, he bounced between jobs for two years before he was drafted into the army. After his basic training in Missouri, he found work installing drywall and driving a straight truck for a construction company in California. But after 13 years, Hockaday grew restless.
“I needed to be outside, needed to be independent,” he says.
He moved home, asked his younger brother to teach him how to drive, and became the third son to follow in their father’s footsteps as an owner-operator. Frank Hockaday’s stepson Jerry has continued the legacy.
The eldest child of eight, Frank Hockaday often looked after his younger brothers and sisters while his father was on the road.
“I was like John Boy from ‘The Waltons,’” he says. “I was like the overseer for my mom.”
Hockaday says he didn’t want Jerry to choose a career that might leave little time for family.
Though Frank Hockaday drove over the road when his four children were young, he made time to be a dad, often by taking one of his children with him.