Many truck drivers believe that as the traditional square-hood rigs disappear, trucks will no longer look cool. Well, we think that the Kenworth T600 seen here proves otherwise. Simply put, this slick 2007 truck and 2012 Western trailer, owned and operated by Clay Snider of Queen City, Missouri, is aero done right. Although it may be hard to explain why this not-too-far-from stock combination looks so good, but it just does. Known for his bib overalls and matching red t-shirt, Clay (55) is not only an industry legend in the Midwest, but he’s also a humble, honest, hard-working guy who has been truckin’ it up for over 35 years.
Born and raised in Queen City, Missouri, a little farming town with less than 500 people, Clay has never strayed far – he still lives there today. His dad was a flatbed trucker that hauled lumber to a furniture factory in Kentucky and then steel back to Iowa until Clay was about five years old. At that time, Clay’s dad bought a Standard Oil business and began delivering oil and gas to local farms in a tank wagon, eventually building the operation up to 500 customers. He also owned three gas stations, so for most of Clay’s childhood, his family was in the oil business – and they farmed (mostly corn and soy beans). In 1979, they got out of the oil business and, one year later, shortly after turning 21, Clay bought his first truck – a 1976 International cabover – and started trucking and farming on his own.
Leasing on with a local outfit, Clay pulled flatbeds and step-decks, hauling mostly farm machinery, for about a year. After that, he switched over to hauling cattle, and did that for about a year, as well. From there, he signed-on with Hirschbach Motor Lines out of Sioux City, Iowa in 1982 and began pulling a reefer, hauling bananas from Gulf Port, Mississippi to the Midwest. He stayed at Hirschbach for almost ten years, building his business up to three trucks, and then started pulling flatbeds for BTI Special Commodities in Des Moines, Iowa. Spending about seven years at BTI, he continued to add trucks to his fleet, eventually getting up to six.
While still at BTI, in 1996, Clay started to get tired and decided it was time to scale back, so he sold everything, hired someone to run his farm, and bought what he thought would be his last truck – a brand new red Kenworth W900L and a new Ravens flatbed. His intent was to pay that truck off as soon as possible and then run it forever – but you know how that usually goes! A couple years later, the Signature 600 engine came out and then the Studio sleepers were introduced, so Clay decided to get one more “last” truck – a loaded up 1999 W900L with a 300-inch wheelbase (Clay’s wife called this one “Dad’s Last Truck #2”). Around this time, Clay left BTI and started running LTL freight west
and molding east under his own authority – until he injured his back in 2002.
Not able to drive, Clay took a dispatch job at his brother’s company, which had grown to 150 trucks. After a while, Clay was doing well at work but he still couldn’t drive, so he sold his “last” truck. He stayed there for a few years, and as his back got better, he started driving a bit. Eventually, he found himself in the routine of dispatching Monday through Saturday and then running a load of cattle to Texas on Saturday night and Sunday, before going back to work on Monday morning. Feeling like he was now ready to get back on the road full-time, he began thinking about ordering a new truck.
Throughout his trucking career, Clay has owned just about every type of truck – 28 in all. He has had many 4070 International cabovers, several K100 Kenworth cabovers, a couple Peterbilt 359s, and a bunch of W900 Kenworth conventionals, as well as a few others, so he has had a lot of big rides throughout the years. Having been off the road for a while, this time, he wanted something a little more practical that was less expensive, more efficient, lightweight, and looked at least decent.
In January of 2006 he ordered this 2007 Kenworth T600, which had all of the qualities he was looking for. Painted off-white with a viper red frame, fenders and skirts, the truck features a 500 ISX Cummins, a 10-speed transmission, a 72-inch stand-up sleeper, a 238-inch wheelbase and weed-burner exhaust. Rolling on super singles, which Clay really likes, it also has a nice interior with bunk beds and a refrigerator. Before putting it on the road in May of 2006, Clay added a painted aluminum visor, a rear light bar, and lowered the front end. He also replaced the cheap plastic front bumper with a modified aftermarket fiberglass version, added a painted roof fairing, and then bolted a chrome swan atop the hood, because all of the “cool guys” have one.
Purchasing a new 53-foot reefer trailer, Clay started running produce from California and Washington to the Midwest, but that only lasted for about a year. Falling in love with all of the cool roll-top trailers he saw out west, he ended up buying a new Western flatbed with a roll-top in 2007 and began hauling all sorts of flatbed freight. In 2008, he signed-on with Long Haul Trucking out of Albertville, Minnesota, and has been there ever since, running all over Canada and the United States.
Clay’s current trailer is his third Western flatbed – a matching 2012 with a roll-top and painted boxes, custom-fabricated and painted quarter fenders (done by Clay), a red front and nose cone, and polished pieces on the back. Since he has gotten to know the company and the people at Western, which is based in Boise, Idaho, he likes the trailers even more. “Not only do they look cool, but they are well engineered, lightweight, and they will build your trailer just about any way you want it,” said Clay. He likes them so much, he currently has his fourth one on order! To learn more about Western trailers visit their website at www.westerntrailer.com (yes, that was a shameless plug that Clay wanted to include, but we were cool with that).
Operating as Snider & Sons, Clay’s two boys – Cody (29) and Jake (23) – both drive trucks. Clay also has an unofficially “adopted” son named T.D. (34) who came from Southern California to spend the summer with Clay and his family in 1996 and never went home. Today, Cody and T.D. both have trucks leased on at Long Haul, while Jake has his own truck and hopper trailer that he runs around the Midwest under Clay’s authority. Clay also likes to dabble in the trailer rental business – when he gets a new trailer, he never gets rid of the old one. He simply finds someone who needs it and then rents it to them. He’s no Penske Leasing, that’s for sure, but he does alright!
Married to his wife Cindy for the past 36 years, she has been a God-send to Clay. Cindy has allowed Clay to succeed in trucking – not all trucking wives do that. Cindy understands the business and lets her husband do what he has to do to be successful at it. Way back when, she was an Animal Health Technician at a local veterinarian, but once they started having babies she quit doing that. Later, when the kids got a little bigger, she got her CDL and they ran as a team together (sort of) for a while – Clay did most of the driving, but he was glad to have her along. For the past 15 years or so, Cindy has ran her own sign, banner and lettering shop in Queen City called Sign Designs.
When he’s not out trucking, Clay like to fish, smoke meat and mow grass. Sitting on one of his many riding lawn mowers and cutting grass is his “happy place” – he loves to mow. With six mowers, including three diesel-powered John Deere units, he keeps the grass around their farm, along the road, and around their 22-acre lake neatly trimmed – he even cuts the grass in town, just because he wants to.
For the last few years, Clay and Cindy have also hosted their “Day After Thanksgiving Feast for Wayward Truck Drivers” celebration. Held on the day after Thanksgiving, the feast includes smoked brisket and pork butts, but no turkey. After everyone eats way too much, they all retire to the “liar’s room” (that’s what everyone calls Clay’s living room) for some good old truckin’ stories – and boy can Clay tell ‘em!
Something else that Clay has going is a possible reality television show. Based around Clay, his cooking, and his adventures on the road, the show is still in the developmental stages, but they do have a pilot, and they are pitching it to the networks. It has been a long and slow but fun process – stay tuned!
And, speaking of shows, Clay recently started going to a few truck shows and he really enjoys it. He blames his good friend John Dunnigan for this new endeavor. John and his wife Carrie have a beautiful black, maroon and gold 1994 KW called “Done Again” that they take to some of the shows, and Clay has gotten into the habit of tagging along with them in his T600. But, for Clay, it’s all about the fun (even though he has won a few trophies lately) – he even hangs a small rotating disco ball from his side mirror at all of the shows, just to make sure everyone knows he means business!
With 1.2 million miles on the odometer, Clay’s T600 has been a great rig. After running it a million miles without touching it, Clay began to have some issues with the motor last year, but instead of spending a ton of money to fix it, he spent a little more and replaced it altogether with a new 500 ISX Cummins. That was the only major problem Clay ever had with the truck until October 28, 2014. While sitting at a truck stop in Birmingham, Alabama, another truck backed into his hood while he was sleeping inside – now THAT’S a rude awakening! Clay was able to temporarily fix the hood and piece it all back together so he could continue working, but if you see this truck on the road now, it won’t look as good as it does in our pictures. Clay decided that he wants to go to SuperRigs this year and try to get on their calendar, so he is going to wait until May to replace the hood, repaint the entire truck, and then hook up to his brand new trailer (which is scheduled to be delivered in May). From there, he will head to the event with a fresh rig, and if those guys know anything, they will pick Clay’s unique combination for their calendar.
Clay’s wife calls the T600 “Dad’s Last Truck #3” but unless something catastrophic occurs, this will be his last truck – for real. Clay has no intention of ever replacing it, and with a brand new motor under the hood and a new paint job (soon), why would he? Long Haul Trucking keeps Clay pretty busy, running about 100,000 miles a year, but he only stays as busy as he wants to be (he used to run a lot more than that). And although his Kenworth T600 and Western flatbed trailer combination is not a highly-customized unit, it still turns a lot of heads – and it still gets between 6 and 8 mpg on a regular basis. It’s hard to say exactly what makes this combination look so good, but even many of the long-hood purists agree – Clay Snider’s slick rig is aerodynamic done right!