by Sean Kilcarr
It’s not easy for American Trucker’s editorial staff to pick a single truck from all the sweet iron chronicled in our Readers’ Rigs section month after month and declare it the “best of the best” for the year.
And while Larry and Jeanette Pruitt’s 2007 Mack tractor might not be an old school classic or covered in chrome and bling, a certain special “something” kept bringing our team of judges back to it.
For starters, it’s a truck dedicated to two of Larry Pruitt’s passions: firefighting, which is something he’s done since age 15, and truck driving. Both Larry’s father and father-in-law were truckers, so it seemed to be a natural second job for him when not donning his heavy rubber boots and gear to battle blazes. “Indeed, I used to ride with my dad a little when I was a kid,” Pruitt told American Trucker.
When he got a paid firefighting job in St. Louis 20 years ago, he settled into a “split routine” of sorts: 48 hours on duty as a fireman, followed by four days off —days when he jumped behind the wheel of a dump truck to haul topsoil. A Mack truck fan, Pruitt eventually turned in his dump truck for a highway tractor so he could pull tankers for his father-in-law’s (now brother-in-law’s) business.
A few years back, Pruitt recalled seeing a 2007 Rawhide model Mack Pinnacle tractor operated by Circuit City in his rearview mirror. “‘Man,’ I said to myself, ‘what a sharp-looking truck!’” Pruitt related.
As it happened, he got his hands on that very same unit when Circuit City went belly up and the tractor ended up at a Mack dealer he knew in St. Louis.
Originally, he felt a fresh coat of paint and little touches of chrome would be all that he’d need. But a spur-of-the-moment entry into the Truckers Jamboree held at the Iowa 80 Truckstop—where his Mack won a prize—encouraged him to turn things up a notch … or five.
“I have two antique Mack trucks and the first thing I told myself was that I needed a theme for this one and that I should stick with that theme,” Pruitt said. “For me, it was a no-brainer to go with the firefighter theme.”
Pruitt took a year getting the paint color and graphics just right, adding a firefighting “bulldog” in full regalia not just on the hood but on the gearshift as well. The best part, Pruitt said, are the awards he’s received for all the work he’s put into his Mack.
“I remember sitting on an overturned bucket with a cup of tea at about 3 a.m. after polishing [the truck] for what seemed like forever. I kept telling myself, ‘I’d better win something for all this work or I’ll have to seriously rethink what I’m doing here,’” he recalled. “Now, I just laugh at myself for thinking that.”