KEEP ON TRUCKIN'

With a passion for classic pickups, Lonestar's Richie McDonald lost one that was dear to his heart - but found a great replacement

This is a tale of two trucks.

"When I was in high school, I was around muscle cars and pickups," remembers Lonestar frontman Richie McDonald. "My dad had a '57 Chevy pickup. He took that lime-green truck and turned it into a beautiful candy apple red hot-rod. That's where my love for old trucks started."

About five years ago, Richie bought his first old truck: a '65 GMC Stepside.

"I just loved driving it," he beams. "At the time, we lived about 40 miles out from Nashville. The motor needed a lot of work and the transmission leaked."

His many treks in and out of Music City were hard on the truck. "I ended up broke down on the side of the road several times," confesses Richie. "I'd use my mechanical skills, plus duct tape and chewing gum, to get it going again."

One time, on the way into Nashville to catch the Lonestar bus to a gig, the truck just quit. "I called and told our road manager I was gonna be very late," he explains.

Richie and his wife had become sentimentally attached to the old truck. They didn't particularly want to part with it, but ultimately that's what he decided to do. They purchased something more dependable, a '96 Chevy Clubcab pickup.

In September 2003, Richie and his bandmates were on their bus heading back to Nashville from a show in York, Pa. As the morning sun eased over the horizon outside of Knoxville, Tenn., Richie was in the passenger seat chatting with the bus driver.

"I spotted this pickup pulling a trailer," recalls Richie, "and on the trailer was the coolest old pickup. My mouth dropped open - it reminded me so much of the one I'd sold.

"I motioned to our bus driver to pull up beside the trailer. I could see a 'For Sale' sign in the truck's window, but I couldn't read the phone number.

"So we're driving down the interstate side by side and I'm trying to tell the guy I need his phone number. He's trying to give it to me with hand signals. Finally we both pulled off and stopped at a gas station.

"I told him I had to drive the truck. He backed it off the trailer and I drove it. It was a decked out '65 Chevy. Digital dash. Air conditioning. Tilt wheel. Power windows. Power steering. Oak-plank bed. And under the hood was a Z3 crate motor used in Corvettes.

"I got back to the station and told him my first thought, 'I've gotta have this truck.' My second thought was, 'My wife's gonna kill me.' That's because we always discuss major purchases before we buy 'em.

The driver delivered the classic truck straight into Richie's driveway.

"Every time I drive that truck it takes me back," beams Richie. "To hear that 350 motor rumble - there's not a sweeter sound."

So was his wife surprised by Richie's out-ofthe- blue purchase?

"She was indeed," he notes with a grin. "But she was cool with it."

Right after Richie purchased his truck, he bought Lorie a new Volkswagen Beetle - proof positive that Richie McDonald's momma didn't raised a fool.

-- Larry Holden

Comments