San Antonio, TX
Lara Turner, better known to her trucking friends as Shay, is one owner-operator with an unsinkable attitude. Despite the challenges of being an owner-operator in today’s industry, she says it affords her a freedom that no other career could provide. Simply, she likes being a trucker.
A graduate of Tri-State Truck Driving School, this one-time waitress has succeeded in a very tough industry. The pride of her life is her really great looking truck. She first drove the truck as a company driver and when the company went out of business, she had the opportunity to buy this 1998 Pete that she now pilots solo. The long-nosed Pete 379 is powered by a 500 horsepower Cummins and sports a beautiful black cherry paint job. It’s no surprise that Turner now has added truck shows to her hobby list. Her attention to detail, creativity, style and just plain hard work makes her rig an eye-catcher wherever she goes.
Recently at the Shell SuperRigs competition in San Antonio, TX, Shay showed off her Pete. Among some of the best lookin’ work trucks on the road, Shay’s Pete was a standout. In place of stainless steel and exotic woods, Shay uses an old-fashioned needle and thread to create a Guernsey cowhide theme interior that was a real eye-catcher. The seat covers, seat skirts, shifter cover, sleeper curtains and other accessories are all topped with handsome handmade black and white cloth that gives her rig a one-of-a-kind look. On the outside, Shay uses a similar material to cover the fifth wheel and open deck area.
In spite of the great looks of the rig, Shay’s truck works hard. She logs more than 100,000 miles annually hauling frozen food for Parkway Systems of San Antonio. Her constant companion when she is on the road and during the long grueling days of preparation for truck shows, is Savanna, a 10-year-old blue heeler/chow mix.
Shay says, “Being an owner-operator is a lot of hard work, but I enjoy the lifestyle and the challenge. These days owner-operators have to be very careful with their money and make sure every dollar spent gets back a dollar’s value.”
While a career as an owner-operator may not be every woman’s choice, Shay’s parents are totally supportive of her career behind the wheel. Maybe the most telling comment about Shay comes from a 60-year trucking veteran and former fleet owner W.H. Kale, the fellow who sold her the truck two years ago. Kale describes her as a “fine lady” and says, “She does a fantastic job, is dependable, and was one of my top drivers.”
Shay knows there’s work to be done in the trucking industry to make it a better place to work. That’s why she is a member of OOIDA. “It helps to have an organization like OOIDA behind me,” says Shay, “making my single voice part of a huge chorus that makes lawmakers pay attention.”
-by Gary Bricken
Gary Bricken is an OOIDA member, a former trucker and a freelance writer from Live Oak, TX.