Star-spangled semitrailer puts patriotism on wheels
Feb 1, 2002 12:00 PM
Giant Industries Inc has put national pride and patriotism on wheels, outfitting a Peterbilt Model 379 and tanker-trailer with 40,000 red, white, and blue lights, turning it into an American flag on wheels. Dubbed The Freedom Hauler, the vehicle visits Giant travel centers in the Southwest, giving miniature American flags and flag lapel pins to crowds drawn to it.
For the past four years, Giant has decorated a truck and tanker with colored lights arranged in a holiday theme. The truck would make stops among the company's 180 travel centers during the holiday season, and the lights would be taken off when the truck was ready to be put back into service hauling crude and refined petroleum products. This year the company purchased two trailers that will be dedicated for this purpose.
This is also the first year Giant has put two themed trucks on the road, the other made to look like a holiday peppermint stick.
The Freedom Hauler's design is the creation of Leo Marquez, operations manager for Giant facilities in Farmington and Bloomfield NM. As he has for past trucks, he sketched out the concept and did much of the assembly.
According to Marquez, utility fence is wrapped around the trailer, and the design is marked on the fence to guide installation of the lights, which are held to the fencing by plastic cable ties. For the cab of the Model 379, the lights are securely fastened by duct tape, colored to match the areas of the truck where it is affixed. The lights are powered by three generators — two on the trailer and one on the cab — that supply a combined 20,000 watts of power. Marquez estimates the project took between 300 and 400 hours.
The truck is driven by several different Giant operators, and Marquez says it's a sought-after responsibility.
“It's a phenomenal experience. When it pulls into one of our travel centers, it just goes crazy there for about an hour,” he says. “The CBs go nuts, and truckers come by to look at it and take pictures.”
When it isn't visiting Giant travel centers, The Freedom Hauler is on display at Rawhide Wild West Town in Scottsdale AZ. An Old-West-themed tourist attraction, Rawhide is a co-sponsor of Giant's themed trucks.
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