Rookie finalist drawn to trucking by love for Peterbilts

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Wayne Nottingham Jr.Wayne Nottingham Jr.

Wayne Nottingham Jr. was always attracted to the beauty of  Peterbilt trucks. As a kid, he knew that one day he wanted to drive one.

“The older ones are gorgeous trucks. It was the Peterbilt and the Macks back when I was a kid that were the dream trucks,” said Nottingham, who was recently named a finalist for Truckers News‘ 2017 Trucking’s Top Rookie award.

Nottingham doesn’t have his own Peterbilt just yet, but he recently got his CDL and drives for Swift Transportation. Nottingham, from Niagara Falls, New York, drives a dedicated route into Canada.

He likes his Canadian route, but eventually wants to drive over-the-road so he can travel more.

“The over-the-road is a little more enjoyable because of all the scenery and different things to see and do,” he said.

He hasn’t given up on his goal of owning a classic Peterbilt. He wants to become an owner-operator and says his dream truck would be a 1970s era Peterbilt. 

“They’re just from when I was a kid. They were the trucks that were everywhere and anywhere,” Nottingham said.

When he younger, Nottingham’s father kept CB radios in the home and car. Nottingham loved to hop on and talk to the truckers, giving them directions and helping them out when he could. He says he misses the camaraderie between truckers.

“There’s not as much connection between drivers anymore, which is a shame. They’ve lost the connection to each other,” Nottingham said.

Nottingham, a Navy veteran, is a member of the American Legion of Riders. He spends his downtime riding his motorcycle, a 750 Honda Shadow, and participating in club events.

“Riding a bike just feels free. You’re not trapped inside of something. Really the draw of motorcycles was kind of like the draw to trucking. It was a lifelong thing that I knew I wanted to do,” Nottingham said. “There’s a brotherhood behind bikes, too, even if you’re not in a club.”

As part of the Legion, Nottingham participates in club events that help raise money for charity. Two years ago he rode in a legacy run, from Niagara Falls to Indianapolis, to raise money for children of deceased or disabled veterans.

“I like being able to help people out by doing something I enjoy that betters someone else’s situation,” Nottingham said. 

The winner of the 2017 Trucking’s Top Rookie award will be announced during a ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25 at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, and will receive $10,000 and a package of prizes.

The winner receives:

  • $10,000 cash
  • Expenses paid trip to the awards presentation in Dallas
  • A custom plaque from Award Company of America
  • Interview on Red Eye Radio Network with Eric Harley
  • $1,000 worth of DAS Products merchandise featuring the RoadPro Getting Started Living On-The-Go Package
  • American Trucking Associations “Good Stuff Trucks Bring It” package, which includes a logoed polo shirt, baseball cap, model truck and utility knife
  • An IntelliRoute TNDTM 730 LM GPS Unit and a Deluxe Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas from Rand McNally
  • A dash cam and CB radio from Cobra
  • Feature story in Truckers News

The other nine finalists receive:

  • $1,000 cash
  • A custom plaque from Award Company of America
  • $100 worth of DAS Products merchandise, featuring the Road Pro MobileSpec Portable Life Package
  • American Trucking Associations‘ “Good Stuff Trucks Bring It” package which includes a logoed polo shirt, baseball cap, model truck and utility knife
  • An IntelliRoute TNDTM 730 LM GPS Unit 
  • CB radio from Cobra

Sponsors include:

  • The RoadPro Family of Brands
  • Rand McNally
  • Cobra Electronics
  • Progressive
  • RedEye Radio
  • ATA

Partnering with Truckers News in the search are the three national organizations overseeing truck driver training:

  • Commercial Vehicle Training Association
  • National Association Of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools
  • Professional Truck Driver Institute

Recognizing the top rookie driver was the idea of the late Mike O’Connell, who was formerly the executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association. He believed that honoring a top rookie driver helps show new drivers they are appreciated by the trucking industry.