Former owner-operator Bruce Wieser was known as Bandit years before the 1977 movie, “Smokey and the Bandit,” swept the nation’s collective imagination. But the handle implying a renegade on the run bears little relation to Wieser’s trucking career and advocacy that Greenville, N.C.-resident started three years ago.
Even when Wieser’s 1985 Freightliner was the June 1987 Tractor of the Month, the back story for which you can read about at OverdriveRetro, the then 41-year-old said he wanted to encourage truckers with the large mural of a Native American chieftan and squaw he painted on the tractor’s sides. To Wieser, Native Americans’ and truckers’ struggles for independence were similar.
“The general idea of it is to try to get the image of the trucker back to what it was years ago, back to the highway hero instead of a highway zero,” Weiser said in a telephone interview. “The final goal of the project is to build a Truck Driver’s Hall of Fame.”
He says he hopes that drivers of all ages visit the site so that younger truckers can benefit from trade secrets that “old truckers like myself” can impart. “We’re trying to run with it,” Wieser says, noting that he’s proud of it and of the wholesome responses gathering on the site. “It’s keeping me going.”
Weiser has another hope, too: He’d like to have the Overdrive issue in which his mural and truck were featured 23 years ago. He graciously sent in the scan for coverage of his story on Overdrive Retro, but he lost original magazine copy in a storage facility fire. “I had only that one copy that Overdrive sent me,” Wieser says. “It was special.”
His request is one of many I’ve heard since the magazine launched OverdriveRetro in mid-October. Although our editorial offices have little access to multiple copies of back issues, we will put the word out for those seeking pages and issues.
If you know the whereabouts of a June 1987 issue, you may contact Wieser at B.W. firstname.lastname@example.org or me at LCoulter@rrpub.com. Or, make requests on OverdriveRetro’s facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/OverdriveRetro.