Shifting Gears through the Years

In its early years, Overdrive magazine was as well-known for the spicy women who adorned its covers as it was for its salty stance on trucking issues. Today, the sister publication of Truckers News is a well-respected business journal that represents professional owner-operators. Its entire colorful history will be spotlighted when Overdrive takes to the open road this month to celebrate its 40th Anniversary Voice of the American Trucker Tour.

It will begin Aug. 5 at the TravelCenters of America in Cottondale, Ala., in conjunction with Randall Trucking Media Group’s annual Truck Driver Appreciation Day. Following the appreciation event, which will include free food for drivers, the tour will leave Aug. 6 on a month-long, cross-country trek that culminates at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, Sept. 7-9. Former Overdrive Trucker of the Year Harvey Zander and Randall Trucking Media Group editors – including Truckers News Editor Randy Grider and Equipment Editor Tim Barton – will pilot the Volvo VN770 tour truck. The tractor will feature some of the latest operational, safety and communications technology. The trailer will have an exhibit documenting the course of Overdrive and the trucking industry through the past four decades.

The early years
In September 1961, trucker Mike Parkhurst started Overdrive for owner-operators. He wanted to build an informed, organized community that would stand together and fight the hardships of the American trucker.

Back then, there was no complete interstate system, no power steering and no air conditioning in trucks. Through the tough times – highway blockades, driver strikes and government-office protests – Overdrive targeted corrupt politicians, crooked police, railroads, inadequate truckstops and unfavorable legislation. It helped launched trucking organizations and paid protesting truckers’ legal bills to help fight unfair practices in the trucking industry.

Changing faces
Through the years, Overdrive has shown many different faces. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the magazine still held its ground against industry injustices, and threw in the occasional sexy woman in cover photos and advertisements. Overdrive also opened the Roadmasters Mansion in Los Angeles for truckers who were driving through the area.

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When Randall Publishing Co. bought the magazine in the late 1980s, Overdrive took on a more professional tone. Cover stories featured sound business practices, and articles strived to peel away the negative image of truckers and replace it with a spit-shined portrait of a serious professional.

In the spotlight
Like any seasoned trucker, Overdrive has its stories to tell – from having a cameo in “Smokey and the Bandit” and inspiring a rock band named Bachman-Turner Overdrive to winning awards and fighting unfair legislation. To learn more about Overdrive‘s history, visit the traveling Voice of the American Trucker Tour at one of the locations.

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