Back in August of 2022, at the Waupun Truck-N-Show, John and I were extremely impressed with this beautiful black, silver, and blue 1973 Kenworth W900A. During the show, we got to chat with Richard Compty, who had put in 80 hours detailing this old girl to perfection. Looking inside, outside, and underneath, we could not find one place that he missed. I knew right then and there that this truck was going to be featured one day in one of my upcoming articles – and well, that “one day” is today!
Richard told us this beautiful rig belonged to Ray Leslie Jr. Ray restored the truck in memory of his dad. Richard also told us that it still works, pulling a stainless spread-axle reefer trailer, when needed. Richard owns Compty Brothers Detailing and travels around southwest Wisconsin in the summer, from shop to shop, buffing and detailing trucks. In the winter, he heads to Florida, so he can keep working. If you want him to work on your truck, call (608) 475-1222.
Things happen for a reason and, as I’ve quoted Cathy Sherman before, “Our neighborhood is 3,000 miles wide.” I was delivering in Kenosha, WI, and this beautiful Leslie Transport truck from Spring Green, WI, was in the dock next to me. The next week, same thing, but he was leaving as I got the call my bills were done, so I was not able to talk to him. What are the odds that not long after that, John and I, while at the TA in Jackson, GA, were parked right next to this very same truck on the fuel island. So, John starts talking to the driver, Jerry Sabanos, and we inquired about the A-Model we had seen at Waupun. We exchanged phone numbers and had a few great conversations. Jerry has been a driver at Leslie Transport for five years now, and he could not have talked more highly of the company. At the end of our talk, he gave us all the information we needed to get this story rolling.
Ray Leslie Sr. pulled a flatbed for Madison Silos from the time he was 21, to his mid-40s, when the company closed. Ray Jr. got to ride with his dad on his east coast runs, and he got to learn the trade firsthand from the best teacher a boy could have – his dad. They say that trucking gets in your blood, but I think it would be fair to say that Ray Jr. was born with trucking already in his blood. When the company closed, it was getting harder for Ray Sr. to unload the trailers full of silo staves, so maybe it was a good time for him to move on anyway.
The next company he drove for was Future Foam out of Middleton, WI. This was so much easier for Ray Sr. And, with the help of his dad, this is where Ray Jr. started his driving career at 21. His dad had always been a company driver, but Ray Jr. wanted to start his own company, so in 2002, with the help of his wife Kris, he did just that, leasing on to LTL Service out of Milwaukee, WI. Ray Jr. and Kris ran team for a couple of years, and then she got off the road.
In 2007 Ray Jr. took the plunge and got his own authority and worked as an outside carrier for D&G Transportation out of Germantown, WI. I was working there at the same time Ray was, and we were both running to California, but we did not know each other. We chatted a little bit about Gene Feld, the owner of D&G. His motto back at that time was “Home of the Big Iron” – and he wasn’t kidding. There were a lot of big rides, pulling nice spread axles, in the parking lot of that warehouse in Germantown. I remember Gene would often ask, “Are you making money?” The answer was always, “Yes!” If you did the work there, you were compensated well.
After buying an extra truck, Leon Wesley began driving it for Ray Jr. Pretty soon, he started getting some of his own accounts, and lots of friends, who wanted to drive for Ray, really helped him build the company. Today, the fleet has grown to 13 trucks, 40 trailers (a combination of dry boxes and reefers), and some 20 owner operators, with six of those owning their own trailers, and the others pulling Ray’s trailers. Ray Sr. actually ended his trucking career driving for his son for two years before he retired.
Wanting to restore/build a tribute truck to his dad, Ray Jr. bought a 1975 Peterbilt 359, but he sold the Pete when he found this 1973 Kenworth W900A. His dad loved the Movin’ On truck on the TV show of the same name, and Ray Jr. felt this truck would be a more fitting tribute. Ray Sr. knew about this sweet little Kenworth, but sadly passed away in 2019 before getting to see it finished.
The black, silver, and blue paint, featuring a traditional Seminole style Kenworth stripe design, was done by Rich Nelson. Some things are timeless, and I think this truck and paint scheme is one of them. This beauty has a 425 B-model Caterpillar, an 18 speed, and 3.55 rear ends. A classic engine and rears, in a classic truck, that is a fitting tribute to a dad who instilled the love of trucking in his son.
When I was talking to Ray, I asked him about the title for this story, and then suggested calling it Dad’s Dream or Grandpa’s Dream. And his response, without missing a beat was, “You just named the truck!” She is now known as Dad’s Dream. Some people might not understand how important a truck’s name can be, but it really is.
It was an honor to name this old Kenworth, and the name says it all. His dad never got to drive a truck like this, but in his memory, she was built with love. This truck is proof that dreams do come true, even if it’s the ones we love, building them after we’re gone.