On his 21st birthday, OOIDA member Hank Good changed the course of his life in one simple action. He didn't listen to his mother, and became a professional trucker.
"Mom never wanted me to be a truckdriver," says the Monticello, NY, resident. Rather, she was hoping he'd become a doctor. "But she's been very supportive," he adds.
After attending trucking school, Hank received his CDL in 1973 - on his 21st birthday. Since that fateful day, his love for the road has taken him across the U.S. and overseas. His travels are well documented in the Road Forks, NM, Truckers Hall of Fame. Hank is a member of the National Association of Show Trucks, the Mercedes-Benz Truckers Club of Germany, and the Shell Truckers Club of Germany. He likewise participates in the Trucker Buddy program, corresponding with a group of students in Sea Girt, NJ. And Kenworth calls him their International Goodwill Ambassador.
Hank drove for nearly 10 years before buying his first truck, a 1981 Kenworth K-100c Aerodyne VIT. A year later, Hank was entering the truck in beauty contests and he was winning. Nicknamed "Hank's Highway Hilton," it's a truck that he still drives to this day. And he's logged some serious miles.
"I've had all kinds of adventures with my truck since buying it on July 23, 1981," he says. In addition to the 48 states, these "adventures" have taken him to Germany, Holland, Sweden, Finland, Poland, Switzerland and other European countries to travel the overseas show truck circuit. The Highway Hilton was the first truck to drive through the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
Hank continued to pull freight with the Hilton until 1995, when he parked it for an opportunity to return to Europe and drive a promotional show truck. He returned to the U.S. a year later, planning to put the Hilton back on the road. But as the truck had more than 1.5 million miles on it, he knew he had to do some major work before that could happen. "The problem was, no company wants to give you a lease for a truck as old as mine unless it is totally restored," Hank remembers. "And no bank wants to give you the credit for the restoration work without work waiting for the truck." By 1998, Hank had secured financing and located a shop in Dunmore, PA, where the metamorphosis would occur.
Hank spent the next several months watching his truck being made over from bumper to bumper. DuPont, Truck-Lite, Goodyear, Alcoa and others familiar with Hank's travels and his exemplary safety record, were quick to donate accessories to restore the old KW. Companies, upon learning of the restoration, began to line up. They wanted the Hilton to pull their freight.
In the spring of 1999, Hank picked up his truck. The restoration was complete. The vintage cab, detailed from head to toe (custom lettering, extra chrome, more than 150 LED lights) was soon back on the road and back on the show circuit.
Since 1981, Hank and the Highway Hilton have collected more than 110 trophies. But Hank insists that his KW is, first and foremost, a work truck. "My truck is not just used for shows," he argues. "It is not just a show pony, but a hard-working work horse. (It) works just as hard now as when it was new."
Last December, Hank spoke with the company who sponsored his 1992 and 1993 "Euro-tours." They're interested in bringing him back to Europe if the expenses are manageable. The details, however, have not yet been hammered out. "They asked me for a cost estimate," he says, "which I sent (to them)."
Had Hank taken his mother's advice to heart, the Highway Hilton would never have come to pass. But today, she admits that she is proud of her son's decision.
"It was his dream to become a tractor-trailer driver," she says. "He's happy and he's made friends all over the world."