Brand-new Western Star pulling into Florence, Ky., on Sunday

March 3, 2023

Chuck Robinson


Starting Sunday, Marty Ellis will be back on the road after a short hiatus driving the OOIDA tour trailer.

When he hits the road this time, it will be behind the wheel of a new Western Star 57X tractor. The Spirit of the American tour trailer also got a little TLC during the break.

You can get a look at it Sunday through Tuesday, March 5-7, at the Petro Stopping Center in Florence, Ky. That is Exit 181 from I-75.

The new 57X is bright “viper red” on the outside and has dual exhausts. She has been named Belle Star (the previous truck was Elmo). The interior is suave black and tan. There is a dine-in bunk, which is a nice feature, Ellis said, but it is a little different from Elmo’s.

Western Star announced last summer it was replacing the 5700 series with the 57X. Land Line’s Tom Berg wrote about it in August. Company officials said the 57X is the most fuel-efficient truck Western Star has ever built.

The new truck has optimized idle to keep batteries charged and battery-operated air conditioning that he needs to learn more about, he said.

When Ellis began the break to switch trucks, he told Mark Reddig, host of Land Line Now, that he needed to study the manual for the truck, which has a computerized dash. He said he expected things to be slightly different from the Western Star 5700 EX cab that has pulled the OOIDA tour trailer since May 2019, from when Jon Osburn was behind the wheel. The new one is the fifth Western Star truck called into service to pull The Spirit.

“Every truck, I don’t care if they’re sister trucks, made one right after another, they act differently. I don’t know what it is, so you really have to get used to that,” Ellis said.

Ellis says he used to always hate getting a new truck in the winter, because, if you took your eyes off the road to find gauges or how to turn on the windshield wipers, you could end up in trouble.

“It’s the same with backing up. Every vehicle backs up a little different, so you really have to get to know these things,” Ellis said.

Stop by when you see The Spirit

If you see the OOIDA tour trailer, stop by and say hello. Ellis looks forward to visiting about the Association’s activities and current issues. There are copies of Land Line Magazine to pick up there. You can join or renew your membership with the OOIDA 50th anniversary promotion of two years for $50. That’s a $40 savings. You can also use the promotion as many times as you like.

After Florence, Ellis is set to stop March 9-10 in Glendale, Ky., and then March 14-17 in Dodge City, Ala.

Here is the schedule for The Spirit. LL