The Spirit heads to West Memphis, Ark., with sights on MATS

March 15, 2019

Chuck Robinson


Jon Osburn, skipper of OOIDA’s touring tractor-trailer, plans to spend the weekend at West Memphis, Ark.

Jon and the Spirit of the American Trucker are scheduled to be at the Jerry Fritts Jr. Petro Stopping Center in West Memphis on March 16-19.

Interstate 40 runs just north of the Jerry Fritts Jr. Petro, and Interstate 55 runs just south.

The Jerry Fritts Jr. Petro Stopping Center is on Exit 4 from Interstate 55 and Exit 280 from Interstate 40.

The Jerry Fritts Jr. Petro is named for Jerry Fritts of Cordova, Tenn., an OOIDA life member who was named a 2014 Citizen Driver.

The TA and Petro Citizen Driver award recognizes drivers who earn public respect for our industry through good citizenship, safety, community involvement, health and wellness, and leadership.

The Jerry Fritts Jr. Petro has 280 truck parking spots. There is an area for drivers to walk their pets, a barbershop, Wi-Fi, six truck service bays and a dozen diesel fuel dispensers. The Iron Skillet restaurant is open 24/7. Breyers Ice Cream is there to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Jon said the strong wind on Wednesday, as he was traveling east from Alburquerque, N.M., through Oklahoma and Texas really rattled him.

“After 30 some years of driving, I don’t know if I have ever been that scared,” Jon said.
He said there were five or six overturned trucks from Albuquerque to Amarillo, Texas, and lot of recreational vehicles in distress. The Spirit’s trailer is fairly light and a little tall, so that made it a little more “interesting.”

Here is YouTube video of a semitrailer getting blown over on Wednesday near Amarillo.

West Memphis is a working-class city. Jon will set up not far from Schneider National Carriers, Family Dollar Distribution and FedEx National LTL. All three are 6 miles away across the Mississippi River in Memphis, Tenn.

From West Memphis, Jon plans to start heading northwest for a stop at the Glendale, Ky., Petro on March 21-24 before rolling into Louisville, Ky., for the Mid-America Trucking Show on March 28-30.

Whenever you see The Spirit tour truck, go say hello to Jon. He enjoys visiting about the Association’s activities and current issues. You also can join or renew your OOIDA membership for $10 off the regular price there. Also, you can get vouchers for flu, shingles and pneumonia vaccines from Jon at The Spirit.



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.