Trucker, writer, ovalhead extraordinaire: Bob Martin dies at 68

By Sandi Soendker, managing editor

Land Line trucker/columnist Bob “Cowpoke” Martin died of cancer Oct. 11, 2011, at his home in Lafayette, IN. At age 68, he had trucked for 45 years. After retiring in 2008, he spent more than two years telling trucking stories in his popular online blog, as well as the award-winning column “Journeys” and “Spitballin’ with Cowpoke” in Land Line Magazine.

Bob’s trucking career began in 1963 when he got a job as a ride-along helper with a truck driver headed to Mexico with a load. During the trip, the driver asked Bob if he wanted to drive the truck. It was a request that proved to be an improbable springboard to an extraordinary career and one that took him 4 million miles back and forth across the U.S.

He drove first as a company driver and for the last 25 years was an owner-operator. He was frequently accompanied by his wife of 37 years, Geri. He drove 13 years for a small private carrier in Lafayette, IN, and as an owner-operator boasted longtime leases with both Montgomery Tank Lines and Trailer Transit.

Bob was a self-proclaimed “ovalhead.” The Martins began showing and competing with their 1995 red Peterbilt 379, aka “Cowpoke” in 1995. One of the highlights of his trucking career was that truck being featured in the 1997 Shell SuperRigs calendar.

In March, he was chosen as Dave Sweetman’s Pick of the Litter Award at the 2011 Paul K. Young Memorial Truck Beauty Contest at the Mid-America Trucking Show. Bob acknowledged it was, to him, his “lifetime achievement award.”

He was a fan of the Indy 500, baseball and bluegrass music. He was a life member of OOIDA and a super fan of the Dispatch Me Home website. LL