50 Years of Trucking Stories
Road King celebrates a golden anniversary
In the early days, truckstops weren’t much different from military barracks. There were bunks and communal shower rooms, which might or might not be tiled. But by 1963, those old highway stops were well on the way to sprucing themselves up and finding ways to cater to road weary truckers. That was the year that Pure Oil, which was building a network of truckstops, published the first issue of Road King.
In the Summer 1964 issue, a column by Pure Oil’s General Manager for Truck Industry Sales noted: “The trucking industry is in for a big 10-year boom. As the Interstate Highway System expands each year to its final completion date in 1972, the need for trucks and drivers will increase. So you can plainly see, Mr. Driver, you are in a growth industry with nothing but good times ahead in the foreseeable future.”
For 50 years the magazine has covered those good times and offered advice for tough times. Pure Oil merged into Union 76, then National Auto Truckstops and ultimately TravelCenters of America, which now operates the TA and Petro Stopping Centers brands. The needs and skills of truck drivers grew with the times, and so did Road King. In fact, it literally grew from a digest-sized booklet to a full-fledged glossy magazine.
Over the years, Road King has profiled some well-known stars, including LeAnn Rimes, Merle Haggard, Darrell Waltrip, John Ratzenberger and ZZ Top. But the main focus has always been drivers — those with more than a million safe miles, who haul unusual freight, who customize their rigs, who team with a spouse, who built a thriving business, who donated their time to help others in need. And let’s not forget the tales of truckers and their pets.
If a truck driver could experience it, then Road King would cover it. That was the idea in 1963, and it is the continuing goal today.