An Oldie but Goodie

’59 Mack wins Truckers’ Choice at Walcott.

An antique truck beat out all the others at the Twenty-Sixth Annual Walcott Truckers Jamboree at the Iowa 80 Truckstop in Walcott, Iowa, July 14-15. Canadian Andy Zary’s purple 1959 Mack B61 took home the Truckers’ Choice Award.

The jamboree featured 175 exhibits, a Super Truck Beauty Contest, an antique truck show, a pork chop cookout, the Trucker’s Best Friend pet contest, Trucker Olympics, carnival games, two live bands and the Colgate Country Showdown music competition.

“The Walcott Truckers Jamboree is the perfect chance for us to show drivers just how important they are to us,” said Delia Moon Meier, the Iowa 80 Truckstop senior vice president.

More than 70 trucks entered the Truck Beauty Contest.

Category winners, beginning with first place awards, are:

Specialty Class
Pat Eilen of Hampton, Minn., with a silver and blue 2003 Peterbilt 379 dump truck; Rick Ingram of Lincolnshire, Ill., with his blue 2003 Peterbilt 330 salt truck

Show Class
Gailand Johnston of Lamar, Mo., with a copper and silver 2003 Kenworth W900L

Best Overall Theme
Ron Baird of Thornton, Ind., with his green 2000 Peterbilt 379

Lights at Night – Combination
Baird, with his Peterbilt 379; Tom and Kim Turner of Cynthiana, Ky., with their teakwood and beige 1995 Peterbilt 379; Mickey Gwillim of Waverly, Ill., with a white/lime green 1986 Peterbilt 359 Extended Hood

Lights at Night – Bobtail
Eilen, with her Peterbilt 379; Butch Garrard of Fairmont, Ill., with a hunter green 1999 Western Star; Ernie Vole of Vernon Hills, Ill., with a red and black 1971 Peterbilt 359

Interior – Custom Sleeper
Tom and Kim Turner, with their Peterbilt 379; Zary, with his Mack B61; Ed Borger of Moulton, Iowa., with his red 2005 Peterbilt

Interior – OEM Conversion Sleeper
Russ and Debbie Brown of Moore, Okla., with their black and orange 1999 Freightliner Classic XL; Baird, with his Peterbilt 379; Mike Stoneman of Payette, Ind., with his brown 1951 GMC 970

Interior – OEM Sleeper
Ryan Avenarius of Dubuque, Iowa., with his gray 2001 Freightliner Classic XL; Johnston, with his Kenworth W900L; Glen Page of Camden, Mich., with his red and black 2001 Peterbilt 379

Polish and Detail
Shawn Swanson of Prophetstown, Ill., with his white/purple 2002 Kenworth W900B; Eilen, with her Peterbilt 379; Gwillim, with his Peterbilt 359 Extended Hood

Custom Paint – Murals (TT Combo)
Baird, with his Peterbilt 379; Mike Schwersenske of Westfield, Wis., with his yellow 2002 Kenworth W900L; Carl Johnson of Carlisle, Pa., with his blue/white 1996 Freightliner Classic

Custom Paint – Murals (bobtail)
Johnston, with his Kenworth W900L; Stoneman, with his GMC 970; Eilen, with her Peterbilt 379

Custom Paint – Graphics (combo)
Gwillim, with his Peterbilt 359 Extended Hood; Les Sullivan of Springfield, Ill., with his white and ultra violet 2003 Western Star; Tom and Kim Turner, with their Peterbilt 379

Custom Paint – Graphics (bobtail)
Jeff Hamilton of Florissant, Mo., with his orange/red/gold 2001 Kenworth W900L; Randy Huddleston of Willow Hill, Ill., with his champagne 1995 Freightliner FLD 132; Zary, with his Mack B61

WT: 2000-1992 combination
Tom and Kim Turner, with their Peterbilt 379; Johnson, with his Freightliner Classic; Neal Dykman of Butler, Mo., with his blue 2000 Peterbilt 379

WT: 1991 and older combination
Gwillim, with his Peterbilt 359 Extended Hood; Dave Friend of Rossville, Ind., with his red 1980 Peterbilt Extended Hood; Lavern Cross of Middlebury, Ind., with her teal and purple 1982 Kenworth W900A

WT: 2006-2003 bobtail conventional
Jeremy Heiderscheit of Peosta, Ill., with his brown/blue 2003 Peterbilt 379; Matt Baenziger of Kingston, Ill., with his viper red 2005 Peterbilt 379; Mike Panek of Batavia, Ill., with his gray 2003 Kenworth W900L

WT: 2002-1996 bobtail conventional
Ryan Avenarius of Dubuque, Iowa, with his gray 2001 Freightliner Classic XL; Russ and Debbie Brown, with their Freightliner Classic XL; Garrard, with his Western Star

WT: 1995-1989 bobtail conventional
Ron Brubaker of Sigourney, Iowa, with his yellow 1993 Peterbilt 379; Huddleston, with his Freightliner FLD 132

WT: 1988-1981 bobtail conventional
Gary Vaughn of Johnston, Iowa, with his yellow 1981 Kenworth W900A; Darrel Madden of New London, Mo., with his blue 1986 Mack Superliner; Jerry Hockaday of Moline, Ill., with his green and white 1986 Peterbilt 359

WT: 1980 & older bobtail conventional
Stoneman, with his GMC 970; Tim Miller of Oelwein, Iowa., with his green 1969 Peterbilt 359

WT: 2000-2001
Kirk Rolling of LeMars, Iowa, with his candy apple red 2003 Peterbilt 379; Billy Carter of Victor, Iowa, with his white 2003 Kenworth W900L; Swanson, with his Kenworth W900B

Don Marvin’s Shih Tzu, Skaker, was awarded “Best Dressed” in the Trucker’s Best Friend pet contest. Sassy, a Jack Russell terrier owned by David Reynolds, of Edwardsville, Kan., won the “Owner Look-a-Like” competition. The “Best Trick” was performed by Seven, a Chihuahua owned by Tony Chasten of Pocahontas, Ariz. The Pet Contest was sponsored by Bell Additives.

High Heels and 18 Wheels
Former trucker Bobbie Cecchini has traveled down many rough roads in her life, and at the age of 57, she is telling her story in a touching autobiography, High Heels & 18 Wheels: Confessions of a Lady Trucker, with the help of British thriller writer Roger Radford.

“There were good times and bad, but besides my kids, being a lady trucker was the best thing that ever happened to me,” she says.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Cecchini recounts her struggle through childhood as she discovered her father’s murdered body and was abused by her mother’s many boyfriends.

To escape her rough childhood, Cecchini joined the U.S. Army, where she served in Vietnam as a medical specialist. She then experienced more death and turmoil as she witnessed a killing spree at her base.

After this torrid introduction, Cecchini focuses the book on her life as a woman trucker. At the age of 42, after raising five children, she hit the road and found true freedom through driving 18-wheelers across the country. The book describes the characters she met and her challenge to maintain her femininity in a male-dominated industry. As a symbol of her femininity, she always kept a pair of red stilettos in her truck cab, just in case she got the chance to go out dancing.

Life as a trucker was not easy for her; she survived a rape and the tough life of this occupation. Yet Cecchini believes that driving a truck was one of the few great times of her life.

After eight years as a driver, she experienced a back injury that doctors told her could be easily fixed through surgery. But the operation left her with an incurable spinal disease, adhesive arachnoiditis, which sentenced her to life in a wheelchair.

Faced with severe pain and the restricted life in a wheelchair, Cecchini’s weight ballooned to the point of endangering her health. But she forged through that battle with the help of an online support group, where she met Radford, who also has adhesive arachnoiditis. Radford is a former Associated Press correspondent in the Middle East and the author of three published thrillers. Now, after successfully undergoing a stomach-stapling operation and winning a four-year fight with workman’s comp, Cecchini lives in Rochester, Minn., and has hope for the future and for the success of her autobiography. She may never drive a truck again because of wheelchair restrictions, but she still has her red stiletto heels just in case.

High Heels & 18 Wheels: Confessions of a Lady Trucker is published by Booklocker at this site and sells for $14.95. Signed copies can be obtained directly from Bobbie Cecchini at this site.
–Christine Green

Truckers Join the Search
Think of the many faces you see each day as you drive across America. Some may be missing children.

Now truckers who want to help in the nationwide search for missing and abducted children will have a new way to participate – through Child Watch of North America’s new “Eyes of America” project.

Working with trucking associations, the project will provide truckers with posters of missing children to place on the side of their trucks. Because Child Watch receives no federal or state funding, donations and sponsorships from private individuals and companies will fund the national campaign.

Norman Schniederhan, creator of “The World’s Largest Truck Convoy,” an event benefiting the Special Olympics, will serve as the national consultant for “Eyes of America.” Schneiderhan and Janet Ritchie, director of development, developed the concept. Participants from the trucking industry include The American Trucking Associations, XM Satellite Radio, OOIDA, the State Department of Transportation, the Mid-America Trucking Show and trucking magazines.

For a gift of $25, an individual or company can place a missing child’s poster on a truck and get a certificate of appreciation and a tax deduction in return. Because Child Watch of North America is a 501 C (3) charity, all monetary gifts are tax deductible.

Child Watch has also created and produced a free DVD designed to educate families and teachers on child abductions and the best practices for safety. The DVD features a performance by teen singing sensation TGK and was filmed entirely on location in Cocoa Beach and Orlando, Fla.

Child Watch has also endorsed Florida’s Jessica Lunsford Act, which was signed into law by Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida in May of this year. The new law provides a mandatory sentence of no less than 25 years to life for child abductors. It also requires people convicted of certain sex crimes against children to be tracked by a global positioning satellite once they are out of prison. The new requirements only affect people convicted after the law was passed, but it also has a provision that allows for GPS tracking of sex offenders who violate probation.

For additional information about “Eyes of America,” sponsorships or tax-deductible contributions, contact Janet Ritchie at (407) 313-4999 or [email protected] or visit this site.
—Christine Green

An Unforgettable Driver
Losing loved ones is never easy, but ensuring that their memories live on can help ease the pain. In an effort to honor their father’s memory, the Davis family created a website dedicated to the life of Gary W. Davis, a truck driver who was killed at the age of 48 in a work-related accident on Feb. 12, 2004.

The website,, tells the life story of Gary Davis, husband to Teresa Davis and father of Britney and Kathryn Davis. Born and raised in Sacramento, Calif., Davis was a driver/leadman at Overnite Transportation for more than 18 years and was known as “Hollywood” on the road. He had an extraordinary safety record and had been awarded a number of safe driver awards throughout his career. Davis’s father had also been a truck driver.

The website, created and designed by Davis’s 16-year-old daughter Britney, has a photo gallery, poetry dedicated to truckers, a comment section, a calendar of events and even a collection of Davis’s favorite recipes. Britney won an Honorary Student Award at her high school for the site.

“It became a labor of love and a form of therapy for her,” Teresa Davis says about Britney’s work on the site.

In August 2004, the family held a barbecue in memory of Davis. About 180 friends, family, drivers and some of Davis’s delivery customers attended the event. Because it was such a success, the family decided to make the barbecue a yearly event.

In addition to honoring Davis, the website hopes to share information that could help prevent work-related deaths or injuries and to discuss safety issues, insurance, worker’s compensation and more.

The Davis site links to another site that was created by Davis’s nephew Scott Hall. The website is designed to allow loved ones of drivers who have passed to share their “truck driver remembered” stories. It also links to support groups for drivers and their families and has trucking industry news, polls and a trucker slang guideline.
—Christine Green