OOIDA life member honored by trucking industry during MATS

April 3, 2023

Ryan Witkowski


OOIDA life member Candy Bass
OOIDA life member Candy Bass (Photo by Staff Writer Ryan Witkowski)


It was a banner weekend at the Mid-America Trucking Show for one life member of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

On March 31, OOIDA life member Mary “Candy” Bass was named the 2023 Driver of the Year by the Women in Trucking Association. Bass was among three finalists for the award, which is presented during the group’s annual Salute to Women Behind the Wheel event hosted at MATS in Louisville, Ky.

“Candy Bass has given extensively to the trucking profession, not only during her time on the road and commitment to safe driving but through mentorship and her desire to be a guiding star for women at all stages of their careers,” WIT President and CEO Jennifer Hedrick said in a statement.

A 50-year long-haul veteran of the trucking industry, Bass has accumulated 6 million collision-free miles. In 2016, she was awarded the TA Petro Citizen Driver award.

While thriving in the male-dominated world of trucking, Bass has also worked to increase diversity in the industry. She has appeared on a number of magazine covers, as well as in promotional marketing materials for Transport Designs, as a way to encourage more women to join the trucking industry.

On top of being named driver of the year, Bass also was presented with the Golden Achievement Award on behalf of the American Truck Historical Society. While women with executive roles in the industry have been given the honor, Bass is the first woman driver to earn the award.

“It’s an award for people that have thanklessly spent 50 years toiling in this industry,” John Vanetta, chairman of the board for ATHS, said during the ceremony. “Probably no one has ever taken the time to say thank you or that you’ve done a good job, and one of the things we want to do is finally say that and recognize that 50 years.”

In addition to receiving the award, Bass will be part of the 2023 class for the American Trucking Hall of Fame. It was an unexpected surprise for Bass, who says she was stunned to receive such an honor.

“I’m sure glad I drove 50 years,” Bass said while accepting the award.

It was a weekend full of recognition for Bass at this year’s show. On top of being honored by both Women in Trucking and ATHS on Friday, she was also inducted to the MATS Wall of Fame the night before. OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh, as well as the late Troy Huddleston, joined Bass in this year’s Wall of Fame class. LL