The Spirit of Ad­ven­ture alive

Roger re­united with Mack

Big Rigs - - NEWS - Kirstin Payne kirstin.payne@bi­grigs.com.au

EVEN through the for­est of his snowy mous­tache, Roger Pre­ston’s beam­ing smile could be seen for miles as he wan­dered over to meet his faith­ful Mack, The Spirit of Ad­ven­ture, for the first time in more than 35 years.

The truck­ing trans­port hall of fame vet­eran was re­united with the piece of truck­ing his­tory after Toowoomba truck en­thu­si­ast Glen Beu­tel re­stored the truck and tracked down the orig­i­nal owner in a show of more than sen­ti­men­tal­ity.

The truck for the Pre­ston fam­ily was a sym­bol of a busi­ness, hard work and The Spirit Of Ad­ven­ture was shared be­tween a fa­ther and son.

The his­tory

Un­like many driv­ers, Roger didn’t be­gin in a truck­ing: In­stead he started as a cop­per.

“When I started in the po­lice force, my spe­cial in­ter­est was trucks,” he said.

“I used to look at the ma­chin­ery and think, gee wizz how do they af­ford to get into those things.

“We had some good friends but even­tu­ally I thought, hang on a minute, I do all this driv­ing for the po­lice de­part­ment and I am on ter­ri­ble money. I could drive one of those things.” he said.

This thought sparked a life­long pas­sion for the in­dus­try.

“Turns out, I knew noth­ing about truck­ing and I had to learn quickly,” he laughed.

When Cy­clone Tracy hit Dar­win, Roger’s work be­gan on one of the tough­est runs, as he de­liv­ered sup­plies to help re­build the city.

“This one used to come with me as a lit­tle fella,” Roger said, point­ing to Rod Jr, now a man taller than six foot.

“He was only about 14.”

Rod Jr sighed nos­tal­gi­cally and leaned into the con­ver­sa­tion.

“In school hol­i­days, my dad used to time his trips so I could go with him be­cause most of the year he was away,” Rod Jr said.

With a mother and three sis­ters at home, he couldn’t wait to head off on a testos­terone-filled es­cape in the Mack.

“I still re­mem­ber be­ing a kid hear­ing the truck grind up the drive­way when you knew he was home,” he said.

“We only had a two-week win­dow where we had to get up and back. Of­ten we would be in the mid­dle of Queens­land some­where and Dad would turn to me go­ing, ‘When do you have to be back, when do you have to be back at school?’

“But it all worked out,” he laughed.

“I was the kid at school that had ad­ven­tures in Dar­win and the out­back.

“It re­ally was the last fron­tier in those days and I learnt to drive that truck out there,” he said re­call­ing the time he drove past a po­lice of­fi­cer as an ado­les­cent.

“Dad just said you’ll be right and just went back to sleep.”

The next trip Roger was bailed up by that same po­lice­man in Wyan­dra.

“He asked me if I had trou­ble see­ing over the dash,” Roger added.

“I said geez you’ve got good eyes, you wouldn’t read about it, the valve s**t it­self,” he laughed.

❝ This was an in­ter­est­ing project, once the dog bites you, it bites you hard.

— Glen Beu­tel

The re­union

“It was a real fluke how it hap­pened,” Roger said as he nod­ded to­ward the R700’s cur­rent owner Glen Beu­tel.

“The con­ver­sa­tion started at my place. One Fri­day af­ter­noon some­one pulled out an old Bull­dog Bul­letin and asked where my old truck was.

“We thought let’s see and word spread.

“We found out a bloke in Toowoomba had bought it and I thought bug­ger it.

“But that was just the be­gin­ning of a friend­ship and a huge project be­tween re­storer Glen and the

PHO­TOS: KIRSTIN PAYNE

THE SPIRIT OF AD­VEN­TURE: Find­ing his old Mack R700 was the be­gin­ning of a friend­ship for Roger Pre­ston and Glen Beu­tel. IN­SET: The un­recog­nis­able Mack R700 when it was lo­cated by Glen.

Roger Pre­ston with Rod Jr fea­tured in the Bull­dog Bul­letin 1977.

Roger Pre­ston with Rod Jr and the faith­ful Mack to­day.

The Mack R700.

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