REDFORD, MICH. – Jan. 16, 2008 – Helmets clashing, the roar of the crowd and passion-filled tears of joy are all necessary components for football fans to root their team to victory. Supporting football tradition and pride, Western Star® trucks help three college football teams make it to the field.
Used to transport equipment to all of the away games for The Ohio State University (OSU), The University of Findlay (UF) and Texas Tech University (TTU), each Western Star truck was chosen by its owner because of its rugged durability and tradition all its own.
Ken Blair III, owner of Circle Express in Granville, Ohio, understands what it takes to transport 18,000 lbs. of football equipment. A former Ohio State football player, Blair donates his services and Western Star 4900 EX at no cost to the university, believing he’s just doing his part.
“I spent the best four years of my life playing football for the scarlet and gray – now my customized Western Star represents that same pride,” said Blair. “On the football field and off, I wanted to make a difference at Ohio State – and I am still trying to do the same,” said Blair.
Starting with his father, Ken Blair II, the family-run business has donated a truck to Ohio State every year since 1982. Having purchased his current Western Star in 2001, Blair decided to customize the truck after Ohio State won the 2002 National Championship game.
The trailer is painted in traditional Buckeye gray, and both sides of the trailer are decorated with Buckeye stickers and feature the Ohio State football logo in scarlet block lettering. The trailer also includes a “Go Buckeyes” painted on the front and Brutus Buckeye can be found on the passenger side of the tractor, holding an American flag. Number “46” – Blair’s football number – is displayed alongside the hood.
The interior of the truck is just as impressive. Equipped with gray leather seats and a 76-inch Star Light sleeper, the comfort, reliability and smooth ride are why Blair enjoys traveling in his Western Star. Plus, the 525-horse power Cummins engine is easy to handle.
“I knew Western Star’s rugged body and long-term durability would enable me to drive across the country with football equipment for many years,” said Blair.
“In addition to reliability, this truck has a great road presence. I’m proud to donate my services and this unique Western Star to Ohio State.”
Here Come the Oilers
Erik Fenberg, owner Hurricane Marine Transport in Findlay, Ohio, provided the 2000 Western Star 4900 EX to the University of Findlay for its 2007 football season, hauling more than 10,000 pounds of equipment to each home and away game.
“We’re based in Findlay, my father earned his undergraduate degree from Findlay and I earned my master’s degree there,” said Fenberg. “We’re proud of our university and community, and this is something we wanted to do for a long time.”
Previously using a small rental truck to haul their equipment, the UF football team was only able to bring a limited amount of equipment on the road. In addition to football equipment, the team is now able to haul an all-terrain support vehicle for use on the sidelines.
Fenberg realized how important it was for the UF football team to have reliable transportation. He selected Western Star for its rugged dependability and customization capabilities. Having previously driven a Western Star, he knew it was comfortable and easy to drive, making long trips more enjoyable.
The trailer features “Go Oilers” above the truck, just high enough for opposing teams to see as it approaches. A large UF logo with the slogan, “Here Come the Oilers” is also prominent on the trailer. In addition, a ground level shot of the offensive is on the driver’s side, and the team’s defense is depicted on the passenger side. A helmet and past national championships are also prominently featured on the trailer.
“When the truck rolls into the opposing teams’ campus, it is definitely intimidating,” said Fenberg. “UF is the only NCAA Division II team that has a truck this impressive to carry their equipment.”
In addition to its good looks, the fully-loaded 4900 EX with 76-inch Star Light sleeper provides Fenberg with plenty of space. The roomy cab and flat-floor sleeper make it easy to get in and out.
“The comfort and reliability of the truck makes it feel like you are driving down the road in a luxury car,” said Fenberg.
“This truck represents not only UF but also our entire city,” said Kory Allen, assistant coach. “We are privileged to have the Western Star 4900 EX haul our equipment and we’re grateful to Hurricane Marine Transport for helping us create visibility for our football program. It is one of our most beneficial recruiting tools.”
Red Raider Pride
Similar to Blair and Fenberg, Richard Willis is the ultimate supporter of his alma mater – Texas Tech University.
Willis, owner of Willis Moving and Storage in Lubbock, Texas, and a 17-year customer of Western Star, has been providing two decked-out Western Star 4900 EX LowMax trucks to TTU for more than 10 years.
The trucks haul the football team’s 40,000 lbs. of equipment and the band’s 30,000 lbs. of instruments to away games. Willis also supplies the fuel, insurance, an additional driver and all the necessary paperwork needed to drive the truck across country.
“There are about six games a year at schools in every direction, from North Carolina to San Diego and Nebraska,” said Willis. “I am very proud to represent Texas Tech — plus, it’s just a lot of fun.”
A former football player at TTU, Willis always kept in touch with the team and knew that as their conference was growing, they had to travel longer distances to away games.
Willis was ready to help in any way he could. As the owner of Willis Moving and Storage, a Lubbock-based Mayflower dealer, he already had everything he needed to haul the equipment.
The team’s Western Star trucks feature a red and jet black “Red Raiders” laser cut and backlit on the custom front bumpers. LED lights line the intake brackets and lower edge of the cab and sleeper. Polished aluminum wheels and fuel tanks with stainless steel bands complete its impressive look.
The football trailer features “Texas Tech Football,” a log and helmet. The band’s trailer displays their motto, “The Goin’ Band from Raiderland,” a Red Raiders and a Texas Tech logo.
“Not only are the Western Star’s an efficient way to transport equipment, but they also add to the excitement for the team and fans,” said Willis. “You can’t miss the trucks when coming to a game. They look really impressive.”
The inside of the trucks are also impressive. In addition to several comfort features, Willis’ wife, a fellow TTU alum who travels with him to each game, adorned the cab and 82-inch Stratosphere® sleeper with team décor.
“The trucks are spec’d to keep us comfortable on the road with top-of-the-line options like a dinette sleeper seating package, burl Elmwood dash and cabinets, leather seats, a full gauge package and factory-installed CB radios,” said Willis. “Plus, the LowMax is low maintenance, reliable, quiet and has a smooth ride. I couldn’t ask for anything else.”
All the hard work Willis put into the support of the TTU football team and band isn’t going unnoticed.
“These guys are unbelievable,” said Don Buck, director of the TTU football training facility and operations. “With our top-of-the-line trucks and Richard driving, I don’t have to worry about our equipment any more. I can’t imagine doing it without them.”
Western Star Trucks Sales, Inc., headquartered in Redford, Mich., produces heavy-duty custom trucks for long-haul and vocational applications. Western Star is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America LLC. Daimler Trucks North America produces and markets Class 3-8 vehicles and is a Daimler company, the world's leading commercial vehicle manufacturer.