Buckeye Truckers Barrel Down to Big Easy

January 4, 2008

With apologies and condolences to LSU fans, I have to tell you I'm a Buckeye born and bred. If your home berth is in Central Ohio as mine is, Buckeye fever is transfused into the blood at birth. I'm proud to say there are no fans more rabid than those who follow the OSU Buckeyes. It gets us into trouble occasionally, but when we bleed, it's scarlet and gray!

But I'm not here to plug OSU's chances in the BCS National Championship Game in New Orleans this coming Monday. I'll let the score speak for itself! I wanted to talk about the Ohio State Express, the 18-wheeler that will be trucking the team's gear down to the Big Easy. Back in 1982, OSU was the first university football program to have its own semi. "We were the only school in the nation that had one," said Ken Blair, Jr. who donated the first truck as a symbol of Buckeye pride when his son, Ken Blair III, made the team as a walk-on player. A longtime semi driver and owner of Blair Cartage in Cleveland, Blair has hauled the team's equipment to road games and bowl contests for 25 years. The trip to New Orleans will be his 24th bowl trip.

In an interview with the Columbus Dispatch, Blair recalled how he got the ball rolling: "My son, a walk-on in 1981, made the team, and they took him with them to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis that year. For their equipment truck, they had this moving van with banners hanging by ropes over the top of it. I looked at that and thought we could do a whole lot better." The next fall, he presented the team with its own equipment trailer and has donated the equipment and his time as a driver ever since.

Blair's sonnow joins him in the cab for many of the long hauls. A trucker like his dad, Ken Blair III owns trucking company Circle Express in Granville, OH. Last year he donated the current hauler, a new silver gray semi resplendent with OSU logos. Look for it on the highway next Tuesday and give the Blairs a friendly blast.

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