They don’t make them like Frank Hutton anymore. He’s 84 years old, and still full of energy. Frank is one of the most well-known truck drivers in America, due to his expertise in safety and control, and his skill in winning Truck Rodeos. All in all, Frank has won 3 national championships, and placed in more than 15 state competitions. He attributes his fortune to staying calm, respecting his machine, and seeing problems before they arise.
Over the years, Frank has made his fortune crossing the line between government contracts and private companies, and even driving tour buses. He said although he would never want to return to the profession, he couldn’t have asked for a better life.
“My first truck driving job was with the Department of Highways. I started there in 1952 and drove a 2 1/2-ton flatbed truck with a core drill. I core drilled several bridges around the state, including one at Winfield.
“I drove for Mason Dixon Tank lines for 28 years. I went to 38 states and logged 3 million miles. That’s not many miles today, but when I drove, you had to drive Route 60, and you didn’t make 70 miles an hour. Nowadays, if you drive 28 to 30 years, you will log between 5 and 6 million miles.”
Frank has won many truck rodeos over the years, but he distinctly remembers his first.
“The first truck rodeo I was in was 1962 after I’d been driving two years. I drove, and I was just as calm as I am now, ” he said with a chuckle. “For the rest of my career I won it 11 out of 15 tries, came in second twice and third once.”
Frank says the work schedules these days are much harder than they were on he and his fellow workers in the 60s and 70s. “I liked being on the road, but I didn’t like being away from my family. But I did enjoy seeing the country. Every day was different. I would not start driving the way you have to do now. The most I was ever gone was 11 days. Now they keep you on the road for 30 to 60 days.”
One of the things Frank says worries him most about highway safety these days is how cell phones have affected drivers’ attention.
“I want to tell you about driving. With today’s traffic, these cellphones need to be banned. You need to give that vehicle 100 percent of your attention. And you should never go one minute without looking in your mirrors.
“Another thing, a lot of drivers will get on the Interstate and immediately get in the left lane and stay there until they get off. I have met eight vehicles coming the wrong way in that left lane.”