Diesel Trailer Truck grew up with a passion for trucking, so much so that he legally changed his name to reflect his love for the industry. But what is it about trucking that he appreciates so much? For Diesel, it started back when he was a kid playing in the front yard.
A Mack COE pulled into his family’s driveway to make a u-turn, he recalls, and he thought it looked and sounded like a monster. The powerful machine impressed him and ever since that day he has been attached to trucks.
“I think the good Lord picked me to do it,” Diesel, from Junction City, Kansas, says of truck driving.
Diesel, now 56, said he had a rough childhood and he knew he wanted to change his name as soon as he was legally able. He wanted a new name that would bring him pride. Diesel has fully embraced his identity as Diesel Trailer Truck and no longer associates himself with his previous name, so it does not appear in this story.
“We all are not blessed with the best of families. I was in that predicament. There were ten of us and we came up rough. A lot of my siblings, we have different fathers and stuff like that. We didn’t have a good mother. I just said when I get older I’m going to switch my name to something I love that makes me feel good,” Diesel said.
So in the late 1980’s he went to formally change his name to Diesel Truck, but a receptionist at the state office suggested he add Trailer as a middle name. Diesel liked that idea and applied to change his name to Diesel Trailer Truck. The name change was approved and made official a week and a half later.
His name has received mixed reactions from his peers. Some drivers think it’s a cool name while many others, particularly men, are negative about it. Their judgement doesn’t bother Diesel, though, because he didn’t change his name for them. He changed it for himself.
“It doesn’t bother me. I’m going to die with this name. This is me and I’m going to die with this name because I like it,” Diesel said.
Before he started trucking professionally as a civilian, Diesel spent six years in the U.S. military where he learned how to drive truck. He credits the military for kick-starting his trucking career.
“That helped me out a lot. I’ll never, ever in my life open my mouth and say I regret going into the military because the military was a blessing to me. It gave me everything I wanted because I was less fortunate. Everybody wasn’t blessed with the best of families and I just was one of those,” Diesel said. “The military taught me everything. It taught me how to drive from a Jeep, back in them days, to a big ol’ semi like what I got now.”
He served in the U.S. Army from 1980-1984 and then went into the reserves for two years until 1986. Diesel has been a company driver for Werner since 1986 and has driven over 3.5 million miles with the fleet. His next goal is to reach four million miles.
Long before he ever stepped into a real rig, Diesel began collecting and playing with toy trucks.
He began collecting toy and model trucks as a young boy after his first encounter with that Mack COE. He’d buy one anytime he had enough money scraped together. When the money just wasn’t there, he’d make his own toy trucks out of paper. Over the years Diesel has collected hundreds, maybe thousands, of toy and model trucks. He has so many that he’s run out of room inside his home and has an additional storage container dedicated to them. Diesel says his home looks “like a toy store” full of trucks, buses and other commercial vehicle toys.
“I’ve got so many trucks they won’t fit in my house. He who dies with the most toys wins,” Diesel laughs.
He can’t, or rather won’t, pick a favorite truck out of his expansive collection. They all have equal value to him.
“I love all of them. If you were a decent parent and you had children you would love all of them. I love all my babies equally. I don’t have a favorite one,” Diesel said.