Whether your ride is large or small, as a trucker, your rig is your identity. How you keep it is an extension of who you are, and nobody understands this more than Eric Becker, a farmer, rancher and truck driver from Enders, Nebraska. As a true corn-fed Nebraska native, Eric is a hard-working man who doesn’t beat around the bush and his rig, seen on these pages, certainly has an identity similar to its owner – class with attitude.
Born in Fremont, Nebraska, but raised in the town of Imperial, Eric has been involved in farming and custom harvesting with his family his entire life. While growing up, especially around harvest time, Eric always loved the trucks his family used to haul their crops out of the fields, which were mostly Peterbilts (both straight trucks and combinations). Although he could not (legally) drive the “big trucks” until he was 18 years old, at 16 he began learning from his father, Scott Payne (Eric was adopted), in a C70 Chevrolet with a 5×2. Once he turned 18, Eric got into the big trucks, starting out in a 1982 Peterbilt 359 short hood outfitted with a Silver 6V92 Detroit, a 10-speed transmission and an air starter, and then never looked back.
Eric’s love for good-looking rigs can be traced back to when he was still in high school and was out cutting wheat near Lamar, Colorado (Eric remembers visiting a local truck stop and clearing out every bit of chrome the store had). Once Eric finished high school, he spent the summer at home. While working for a local farmer, Eric quickly realized that he wanted to be a farmer, too. Currently farming 1,500 acres and raising 1,000 head of cattle, Eric only drives about 10,000 miles a year, but he gets out on the road whenever time permits – and when he does, he does it in style.
Purchasing his clean truck about five years ago from his father, who was downsizing his operation, Eric’s rig is a 1992 Peterbilt 379. Originally, Eric had a driver running it for him in the spring and summer, hauling fertilizer, and then Eric used it in the fall and winter to move corn from the field to the bins and out. After two years, Eric’s driver decided to go out on his own and Eric became the sole driver of the rig. When it came time to personalize the truck, Eric wanted to use his own ideas and create a certain identity – and create he did!
Eric’s sharp truck features plentiful amounts of chrome and stainless, as well as a cool classic Peterbilt paint scheme. With a polished drop visor, seven-inch exhaust stacks, a 22-inch polished Texas square bumper, and a custom rear light bar, the truck shines from front to back. The rig also features 359 double-round headlights on Double JJ brackets, seven bullet cab lights, stainless air cleaners, and polished double-hump rear fenders. And this truck was not shop-built – Eric did all of the work himself, including the dual-stripe black and silver paint job (which is similar to his father’s original scheme except for the colors). Sitting on tall 24.5 rubber all the way around, the truck has a definite attitude.
The truck’s interior, done in black and grey, features a real wood dash and all stainless steel switches and gauges. Receiving a new crate motor at 750,000 miles (the truck currently has 980,000 miles on it), Eric’s Peterbilt is powered by a C-model Cat with 425 horsepower. Nestled nicely on a 270-inch wheelbase, the engine’s power is routed through a 15-speed and 3.70 rears. Eric uses his mean ride to pull a 2011 Timpte 42-foot grain trailer with air-ride that features a stainless steel rear wall and front corners, as well as several clear LEDs. It may be “just a farm truck” but it’ll give any rig on the road a run for its money.
Although Eric’s truck may not see the same sort of miles that other trucks do, it certainly isn’t babied along. The truck consistently runs out on dirt and gravel country roads, in addition to getting deep in the mud out in the fields, on a regular basis. Primarily hauling corn, potatoes, wheat, and cane bales, it would be safe to say that harvesting is not what you would call “clean” work. But even though the truck may get out in the sticks often, Eric always keeps it looking good.
Running a ranch and farm, and driving a truck in-between, is no small task, so free time is difficult for Eric to come by. In fact, the original date for our photo shoot had to be pushed back so that Eric could take care of some necessary mechanical repairs on his machinery. When Eric does manage to get away from trucks, the cattle and the corn, he spends his time golfing, boating, and camping. A good ol’ Nebraska boy at heart, Eric is a straightforward, genial man and his word is as good as gold. If you do happen to catch up with him out on the road or at a truck show, strike up a conversation with him – you won’t be disappointed.
We first ran into Eric Becker and his rig at a small truck show in Imperial, Nebraska. Held along with the Chase County Fair in late August, the Chase County Fair Truck Show was one of the best shows of the year. It may not have had the vendors of MATS or the casinos of Las Vegas, but the show had a great, laid-back atmosphere, and it was a lot of fun. Held alongside the county fair, the show features hay rides, carnival games and rides, machinery displays, and concerts (last year they had REO Speedwagon). Roll on out to Imperial, Nebraska this August 17th and 18th for a great time. It’s a bobtail-only show, but parking for trailers will be available. For more details about this fun show, contact Tinker Raasch directly at (308) 883-5508 or visit www.ccftruckshow.com.
- We’d like to thank Eric Becker for making time to get out for a photo shoot. Driving a truck as well as running a farm and ranch carries a lot of responsibility and commitment, but Eric still managed to make time for us. 10-4 Magazine would also like to extend a special thanks to Albert Frei & Sons, Inc. for allowing us access to their granite mining pit for the photo shoot. We had a great time up at the pit (which provided the perfect backdrop for most of our pictures), and with great weather all day, we couldn’t have asked for better conditions.
The agricultural industry is a tough business to compete in, but with a good work ethic, commitment, and the right attitude, Eric gets it all done with style (and a little attitude). The rest of the country could take a lesson from the men and women like Eric Becker who still choose to till the soil and herd the cattle with pride. We at 10-4 Magazine salute those who fearlessly keep agriculture alive and well in these United States!