OOIDA’s tour trailer parks in West Memphis, Ark.

March 18, 2021

Chuck Robinson


The Petro at West Memphis, Ark., is a big truck stop just across the Mississippi River from Memphis, Tenn. It’s the next stop for OOIDA’s tour trailer, the Spirit of the American Trucker.

The Spirit is scheduled to be there on March 19-21. The West Memphis Petro can be access from I-40 via Exit 280 and from I-55 via Exit 4. There are 280 parking spots for tractor-trailers, and the Iron Skillet dining room is open.


If you’re looking for some adventure, a driver parked at West Memphis is only 8 miles from blues-music hotspot Beale Street in Memphis, Tenn., and some tasty treats, Osburn says.

The West Memphis Petro is dedicated to Jerry Fritts Jr., who was named a TA & Petro Citizen Driver in 2014. The Citizen Driver honor recognizes professional commercial vehicle drivers whose good citizenship and leadership brings respect to the trucking industry. As part of the honor, TravelCenters of American dedicates a TA or Petro truck stop of the honoree’s choice to him.

Fritts, an OOIDA life member, who had been a driver for 46 years when he was awarded the Citizen Driver accolade, had driven 5 million crash-free miles and had been named to the Landstar Roadstar Hall of Fame.

What drivers are saying

At the previous stop for The Spirit in Jackson, Miss., there was some good news from drivers on the PPP loan front.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program was established to help combat the effects of restrictions put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The good news that Osburn heard was from a motor carrier whose $12,000 loan had been largely forgiven, with the motor carrier on the hook for only $1,800 financed at 2% interest. Osburn said he has heard drivers who have applied for PPP loans through credit unions or small banks were more successful in getting help than those who applied at larger banking institutions.

OOIDA has pushed the SBA to adjusting the PPP loan rules to help sole proprietors and independent contractors. Some changes that should do that were announced in late February.

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to extend the deadline to apply for a PPP loan to May 31. The bill next goes to the Senate.

Jackson water OK at the Petro

Jackson has struggled with a water crisis brought on by the unwelcome frigid temperatures that attacked southern states this winter. Boil-water notices have been in effect since then, but the problems mostly affect areas with older infrastructure. At the Jackson Petro, Osburn said there weren’t any problems during his stay.

While he was OK as far as drinking water was concerned, there was enough rain to dampen the mood of everyone involved, he said.

“I had water coming in everywhere,” he said.

What’s more, the threat of tornadoes hung over the area. WJTV has some photos of a tornado in the Waynesboro, Miss., which is 120 miles from Jackson.

Stop by when you see The Spirit

If you see OOIDA’s tour trailer, stop by and say hello to Osburn. He enjoys visiting about the Association’s activities and current issues. He usually has copies of Land Line Magazine to hand out. You can join or renew your membership for $10 off the regular price there. Face masks are available for anyone with a commercial driver’s license at The Spirit. You also can get forms for drivers without medical insurance to get flu, shingles and pneumonia vaccine vouchers at The Spirit.

After West Memphis, The Spirit is scheduled to stop March 23-25 in Glendale, Ky.

Here is the schedule for The Spirit. LL


WW Williams
Chuck Robinson

Chuck Robinson formerly was senior copy editor for a weekly trade publication serving the fresh produce industry. He has served trade publications, horticultural journals and community newspapers for 25 years.