Mafia Secrets – June 2020
Bryan "Boss Man" Martin
They call him “Showtime,” because his favorite activity is showing off trucks, cars, vans – just about anything with wheels. OOIDA member Troy Huddleston, a longtime customer and great friend, is no stranger to many of us. You can usually see him at MATS, TopGun, SuperRigs, Wildwood and always at GBATS in Joplin, Mo.
Based out of Yale, Ill., this 35-year trucking veteran has owned and driven this same truck since 1995. Powered by a 425 hp Cat, a 15-speed OD Fuller transmission, and 3.58 ratio gears with more than 300 inches of wheelbase, this lil’ red Freightliner Classic wasn’t all that little in 1995. These were pretty large specs back in that era.
Troy and his brother, Randy, are diehard Freightliner fans and historians. It is safe to say that they have forgotten more than I even may know about Freightliners.
As you can see, his 1991 Freightliner Classic XL has been well kept and fully customized just about the entire time Troy has owned it.
In 1996, shortly after purchasing the truck, Troy was pulling a load of anhydrous ammonia and got involved in a wreck where the rig was laid over and totaled out by the insurance. He retained the truck and installed a brand new cab and hood, and changed it to a classic XL front end. You can see it was solid viper red, had shaved headlights, no horns or cab lights, Delorean style doors, quilted fenders, 8-inch stacks, a louvered grill and was lowered and streamlined for a lean and mean hot rod stance. After the wreck and because of the severity of the incident, the truck was appropriately named “Flirtin’ With Disaster.” Huddleston made quite a stir at shows throughout 2000-13 with this rig, and it was featured on more than one big rig calendar.
More recently, in 2016, Troy and Randy got busy and did an extensive full-body makeover on the truck to make it appear like an FLC model. The FLC series went out of production in the 1980s. The brothers found a used aluminum hood, changed out the windshield mask and cowl panels, and put an old authentic paint job on it. They cut some cool heart-shaped windows in the bunk and decided to go back with original-style sun visor, cab lights and stacks.
One of Troy’s favorite parts of the truck is the old “Jackson” paint stripe design, which Freightliner offered in the ’80s and which was inspired by one of Carl Alt’s trucks from Huddleston’s childhood days. He also really likes the “double-stacked” front bumpers.
Today, when he isn’t driving the RoadWorks Manufacturing Show truck from one event to the next, Troy hauls liquid fertilizer and food-grade organic grains with his truck. After operating 25 trucks back in 2010, he found a buyer for a portion of his business. He has definitely acquired a new level of contentment in overseeing this one truck and being able to have a lot less stress and enjoy more of his family time.
Like so many of us in the industry, Troy grew up riding with his dad –“Big Hudd,” as folks called him – every chance he could get. He went summers, weekends and any other time he could ride shotgun with his dad. His father owned day cabs back then, and he jokingly recalls that when they would get to a destination he would sleep on the floor, curled up around the shifter. Or sometimes Big Hudd would pull the tarp back on the trailer, and Troy would lie on top of the beans and take a nap.
After Troy launched his owner-operator career, he owned a Peterbilt for a short time. Although he loved the look, he couldn’t stand the rougher ride. So he sold it and got back in his pride and joy, this ’91 Freightliner.
Troy’s advice to someone just becoming an owner-op is, “Do one thing, get it down pat, do it right, and be the best you possibly can at it. Don’t get spread too thin, chasing too many rabbits. Next, listen to what some of the old-timers in trucking tell you, take it earnestly to heart, and apply it to what you do.”
We have known Troy for many years and can certainly tell you from personal experience that he has not only been a friend , and wonderful customer, he also has strong and admirable family values, is surrounded by great people and is one of the best sports you’ll ever meet.
Troy thanks the Lord for the opportunity he has been given to do something he enjoys to earn his living. As he says, “If you make work your hobby, you’ll never work a day in your life”.
He is especially grateful to Maria, his wife of 20-plus years, and their three awesome children: Austin, Allison and Alivia. They are the reason he “gets up and goes.” He also thanks his brother Randy for continuing to work on the truck while Troy had to go trucking from time to time, as well as Dammit Dave and Rob for all the help and late nights working on the ol’ girl.
In closing, this rig is no longer known as “Flirtin With Disaster.” Troy officially renamed the truck in 2016 to “Roll With the Changes.” LL