Tami Fawcett was about 14 years old when she ran away from her home in Washington. She’d decided she was going to go be a movie star in California, and she managed to hitch hike to a truck stop in Oregon.
She got to ride in a big truck, and after that she spent most of her teen years running away from home so she could get back to those trucks and ride along. She got her CDL as soon as she turned 21 and started driving a truck of her own in 1988 running by herself hauling containers.
“From the first time I got in that big truck there in Oregon I just went, ‘Wow, this is it.’ Back then the truckers were a little different, it was a little different scene than it is today but I fell in love with it, just the whole lifestyle,” Fawcett said.
Fawcett, who has homes in Washington and Texas, drives as an owner-operator with her own authority. She has a 2000 Peterbilt Convential with a custom pink paint job, named Miss Margaret, and a stainless steel 53-foot trailer that’s painted to match the truck.
Fawcett frequently drives team with her boyfriend, Tom Rupel. Rupel owns a Peterbilt of his own, and because his is painted blue, Fawcett jokes that they look like “his and her” trucks. The two are currently building another Peterbilt truck together that is a hodgepodge of parts at the moment, but it’s still painted in Fawcett’s favorite color: pink.
They started building the truck because they wanted a truck with a bigger sleeper so they could run team more comfortably. One year for Christmas, Rupel brought Fawcett the rear end of a truck and said, “This is going to be your truck.” The truck has come a long way, Fawcett says, but there’s still plenty of work to do.
They decided to make the truck pink because this is a project Rupel started doing for Fawcett, and so it was important that it be in the color she loves. The rear end was the start of it, and then Rupel brought home some damaged sleepers and then they went to Montana and bought a wrecked truck to use. Slowly, the truck has started to take shape.
The in-progress truck’s name is going to be “Texas 1947.” Fawcett picked the name because it’s a reference to Jonny Cash’s song “Texas 1947,” a song about a train, which has the line “Look out here she comes, she’s comin’ / Look out there she goes, she’s gone / Screamin’ straight through Texas like a mad dog cyclone.” She first heard the song while driving a truck when she was in her 30s.
“Because our truck is going to be a fast truck and it’s going to go, go, go and all that, we decided to name this truck Texas 1947,” Fawcett said.
As a life-long trucker, Fawcett she says she’d recommend women interested in getting in trucking make sure they’re up for the commitment when they get into the driver’s seat. She’d tell them to know and understand their truck and how it operates from a mechanical standpoint.
“I would say you have to be dedicated in it and you have to know what you’re looking at and what you’re doing because mechanics and men think you’re stupid because you’re a woman,” Fawcett said.
Fawcett loves what she does and has no plans to ever leave the industry.
“I just love it. It’s what I do. I love trucks, I love trucking, I love the road,” Fawcett said.