A legacy of driving anything and impacting many
HURON — When asked what he’s hauled in his 28 years working as an over-the-road driver, Rich Barnes reflects for a bit, and then begins to list off a host of things. Then he stops.
“I guess I’ve hauled about anything,” Barnes reflected. “I’ve not driven flat bed, though. That’s it.”
The Legacy Award winner at this year’s Wheel Jam, Barnes is a rare award winner who is still actively driving. Barnes drives for Advanced Sunflower, where he’s now been for five years.
Being honored by Wheel Jam is a bit of an interesting turnabout as well as Barnes was a co-founder of the Wheel Jam truck show, though he plays that off quite humbly.
“Scot (Marone) came to me and talked about adding trucks to the cars and bikes,” Barnes said. “I think we had nine trucks that first year, but it’s become one of my favorite things, being part of Wheel Jam.”
Barnes says he got his start driving for his grandfather’s farm, hauling hay. From there, he’s hauled livestock, grain, and a whole host of other items behind his cab as he headed down the road.
His favorite thing over the years on the road?
“I’ve met a lot of people in trucking,” Barnes said. He then shared a story about how his wife, Jolene, was certain he was “into” her because of how frequently he drove past her place of employment during her shift.
“It was just my route, but it worked out okay, I’d say,” Barnes chuckled.
He also shared stories of pulling off the side of the road during a haul, encouraged by other truckers doing so and by law enforcement encouraging him to do so, only to find out that there were nine tornadoes that touched down in that region that evening.
While his own stories and his own impact within Wheel Jam are enough of a legacy, Jolene steps in to remind him of one more that has threads far beyond the highway.
“I paid for her to get through nursing school through trucking,” Barnes explains.
On the road and off the road, that’s leaving a lasting legacy.