They say legends never die, but some still leave us. Such is the case for Rick Harvey, a legendary dirt hauler in Southern California, who recently passed away. A convoy of transfer trucks led a procession from Fontana, CA to Lake Elsinore, CA, where a get-together was hosted in Ricky’s memory. Putting this article together, talking to many of Rick’s family and friends for hours, I made some new friends of my own, which is truly an honor. I only wish that I could have met and known Ricky, because he seemed to be well liked by everyone and a cool guy who loved to truck.
Freeman Harvey, Rick’s dad, made the Harvey name big in California’s Inland Empire with his beautiful dark green Peterbilt transfers. Ricky chose to make his signature trucks white with dark green fenders, lots of lights, tall straight pipes, and his signature swan on the hood (later, Rick’s father-in-law Ronnie Boone carved a beautiful swan out of wood and gave it to him as a gift). Rick Harvey had the love of trucking passed on to him from his father, along with the pride he had in his trucks, and how well he took care of them. Ricky drove for his dad until Freeman decided to retire, at which point he gave Ricky and his sister Sandy each a truck.
With the truck his dad gave him, Rick and his then wife Cheryl started a trucking outfit called Harvey Trucking Inc. in April of 1985. Back then, Ricky would get up at 2:00 AM to beat the California traffic and get ahead of the game. After Freeman retired, Ricky was able to keep the haul his father had established with the Werner Corporation for the next 40 years, delivering sand and gravel from Fosters in Corona, CA to Angelus Block in Fontana and Orange, CA. They thought they would get rich quick when they got this truck, but a month after they got it, they had to do a complete overhaul (such is trucking).
They kept that truck Ricky’s dad gave them for a few years before trading it in for a brand-new truck and trailer tailored exactly to how Ricky wanted it to be. He never took his truck to a show, saying, “I show the truck every day going up and down the road.” Rick didn’t want people at shows touching his truck, but he did enjoy attending some of the bigger local events in SoCal. When they first got married, Rick and Cheryl made a pact that if anything ever happened, they would stay friends for the kids – and they did just that when they split up after 20 years.
Rick loved all his children and grandkids. His daughters didn’t get into trucking, but his son Michael did. He would ride along with dad when he was younger, get donuts and chocolate milk, and then he’d fall asleep on the floor. As Michael got bigger, he would wash wheels and, as a teen, he graduated to greasing and washing the entire truck. Ricky was very particular about keeping his truck clean, inside and out.
Krystal remembers how her dad would wake her up at 2:30 AM and ask, “Are you coming with me?” She would say, “Yes dad, let me get my pillow and my blanket,” and off they went. She would get excited when they would pull up to the plant because she would see a truck she really liked and knew the horn sounded like a train. Ricky would get on the CB and tell the driver to blow his horn for her because she loved hearing the sound. They used to go to the donut shop, too, but she always got orange or apple juice with her donut. Krystal also remembers when KFC first came out with popcorn chicken, and her dad thought that was the coolest thing. Her job when they got back to the yard at night was to take a little broom and dustpan and sweep the floor. He was so proud of her when she became a Nurse Practitioner, and would always say, “Krystal, how did you get so smart?”
His youngest daughter Shelby told me, “He was a trucker to everyone else, but he was my best bud.” They would go shopping together, be funny, and get Starbucks, and when they were together, he didn’t act his age – they were like two peas in a pod. She didn’t have ONE special story about her dad, as she put it, “They are ALL special!”
Rick bought his son Michael a new Peterbilt in 2006, which he drove for his dad, until the recession caused him to have to work for other companies. In 2017, Michael took over his father’s business when Rick retired. He drove his dad’s 2005 until, together, they spec’d out his current truck – a white and green 2020 Pete 389. After he retired, Ricky rode with Michael on his trips to Vegas, and then they would hang out after getting there. Michael said, “He was a great dad.” And since they did so much together, they didn’t have a lot of “I wish we would have…” moments. Like Freeman had been Rick’s rock, Rick was Michael’s rock. He was a best friend, as well as a dad, to all his kids.
Tragically, on January 22, 2021, Rick was killed in an auto accident near Needles, CA along I-40. Everyone was shocked, but his family was heartbroken. Dear friends Alice Bennett and Richard Arbiso, transfer drivers who ran with Ricky, helped put together a memorial convoy that showed Ricky, who used to jokingly say he didn’t have any friends, just how many friends he really did have. Several of the trucks that were in the convoy that day were drivers Rick had helped get started in the business.
The event they organized in Ricky’s honor grew to something much bigger than any of them had ever dreamed of in the beginning. Cheryl, Krystal, and Shelby helped with organizing and setting up decorations and food for the momentous occasion, which took place at Rogue Truck Bodies in Lake Elsinore, CA. Special thanks go out to everyone at Rogue, who opened up their shop and yard and got everything spotless, for the convoy’s ending destination.
The convoy began in front of the Angelus Block Company in Fontana, CA, with about 40 trucks lined up along Whittram Avenue. The energy there was immeasurable, with everyone standing outside their trucks, telling old stories, reminiscing, and having a good time remembering their friend. Everyone in the convoy was on CB channel 7 and, along the 40-mile route, they went past the sand plant where Ricky had loaded for so many years. The loaders were on top of the sand pile, in honor of Ricky, and as the convoy passed, they all said how awesome the trucks looked rolling by! Even Jeri in the scale house got to join in on the conversation.
A Big thank you to Dickies Pilot Cars for providing four pilot cars, and to Sergio’s Pilot Cars for supplying one pilot car, to help the convoy stay together during the trip. Blocking intersections and such, they did and amazing job of keeping everyone together along the route. Having been in a few convoys myself over the years, I know it is no easy task to keep everyone together, especially when you throw in a few red lights and traffic on the freeway. Friends on Facebook, Richard Hood offered his assistance when he saw what Alice was helping to organize.
Michael was the lead truck with his trailer in tow, although most of the other drivers left their trailers at home to help alleviate parking issues at their destination. Colby Caliva buffed out Michael’s truck and trailer and made it shine like only a Caliva can, as it sat in the spotlight, remembering the man who had meant so much to everyone there. On the back of his rear box, Michael had a sign made in his father’s honor that says, “Legends Never Die” along with Ricky’s birth and death dates (1/27/51 ~ 1/22/21). At the memorial, the kids all got to talk to a lot of Ricky’s friends who had worked with him over the years, sharing stories, laughs, and tears. The family is deeply grateful for the outpouring of love by everyone who attended the memorial celebration.
In all my hours talking with folks to put this story together, I made some new friends. What an awesome group of people! All of us at 10-4 Magazine want to extend our condolences to Ricky’s family and friends – it seems like the transfer dump community in Southern California is a pretty close-knit group. Although “Legends Never Die” in our hearts, we will still miss seeing Rick Harvey and his cool truck running up and down the SoCal freeways. R.I.P. driver, your shift is now over.