Ohio Couple Takes “The Big Easy” On The Road

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Rusty Wyrick and Tina Lomax Work and Play in Western Star Show Truck

For most people, the only way to see New Orleans’ famed French Quarters is to actually visit the area. That is, of course, assuming they haven’t been fortunate enough to come across Rusty Wyrick and Tina Lomax’s own version of “The Big Easy” going down the open road.

Wyrick and Lomax are the proud owners of a 1998 Western Star 4900 EX. The pearl white truck, appropriately named “French Quarters,” features a unique New Orleans-theme paint job, custom-made furniture and approximately 1,140 lights.

“Buying this truck fulfilled a lifetime long dream,” Wyrick said. “I visited my first truck show in Dallas years ago and that day I set a goal for myself to own a show truck.”

Wyrick was still driving alone when he purchased the truck in 2000. Ironically, it already was a veteran of the show circuit.

“It was designed after the movie ‘Gone with the Wind’ when I bought it,” he added. “I rented a large building in Joplin, Mo., stripped the truck down and started from scratch.”

A New Look

Wyrick, who has fond memories of travelling through New Orleans, hired artists Al and Dave Thomas to design and paint the new look. It was done with meticulous effort and included reviewing dozens of actual photos of the city and other historical documents. After careful consideration Wyrick settled on three main themes for the outside of his Western Star.

He is quick to point out that the truck offers something for everyone. One side depicts the history of The French Quarter, while the other side offers a tribute to Mardi Gras, with floats and other party themes. Then there’s the hood, complete with a large jester.

The interior of the truck also is unique to the New Orleans theme. Wyrick replaced the décor with all red upholstery, a full-size jester and a hand-carved dining room table featuring a bayou scene.

A Great Team

Perhaps, even more amazing than the truck itself, is how Wyrick and Lomax came to be a couple. The two used to be high school sweethearts before losing touch several years ago. A chance meeting at a Mansfield, Ohio restaurant 24 years later brought them back together. In 2002, Lomax got her own CDL and has put in approximately 5,000 miles driving.

They have been showing the truck since last year and the results have been quite impressive. Wyrick and Lomax have participated in several shows and won many awards across a variety of categories. Recently, they won Best of Show in the Limited Mileage Bobtail (1988 and newer) category at the Stars & Stripes competition at the 2004 Mid-America Trucking Show.

When they’re not displaying their Western Star, Wyrick moves furniture for Palmer Moving & Storage, an officially licensed contractor of North American Van Lines. Lomax, a mother and grandmother, joins whenever she can.

“It was harder than I expected, but I’m getting used to it,” Lomax said. “It’s nice that we can go out together because years ago that was unheard of. It’s hard to be apart that long, so if we can do it together, that’s great.”

Lending a Helping Hand

Both Wyrick and Lomax know how hard it is to maintain “French Quarters.” They also credit a few other people for helping to make sure the truck stays on the road.

“Tim Arthur does all of my wiring and engineering,” Wyrick said of his friend and chief electrician. “He makes sure everything works.”

They also credit their Western Star dealer – Buckeye Western Star.

“Buckeye Western Star services me well and makes sure that I am taken care of,” he added. “I would definitely recommend a Western Star to others looking for a truck.”

Western Star Trucks, headquartered in Willoughby, Ohio, produces heavy-duty custom trucks for long haul and vocational applications. Western Star is a member of the Freightliner LLC Group. Freightliner is a company of DaimlerChrysler, the world's leading commercial vehicle manufacturer.

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