Overdrive founder, trucking activist Mike Parkhurst dies

Published July, 24 2014
Mike Parkhurst, in 2013
Mike Parkhurst

Mike Parkhurst, who founded Overdrive and served as its editor for more than two decades, died of a heart attack Monday. He was 81.

Parkhurst’s longtime friend and business associate John Carny said Parkhurst’s death was unexpected, and the heart attack occurred at his daughter’s home in Sacramento.

Parkhurst launched Overdrive in September, 1961. He was its vocal editor and publisher until its sale to its current owner, Randall Publishing Co. (now Randall-Reilly), in 1986.

During the 25 years he published Overdrive, Parkhurst championed the rights of owner-operators to work freely amid a complex web of Teamster pressures and over-regulation.

Through its early history, Overdrive called for shutdowns to protest fuel prices and anti-trucking legislation. Those shutdowns and other conflicts, notably during the late 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s, eventually led to deregulation in the early 1990s and today’s climate in which the self-employed contractor is able to operate with much greater independence.

Parkhurst used Overdrive in its first 25 years as advocacy press for owner-operator rights, often pushing for shutdowns to leverage power of truck drivers.

To combat heavy regulation and the dominance of the Teamsters union in trucking, Parkhurst in 1962 launched a national trade group, the Independent Truckers Association, later called the Roadmasters. The group offered members discounts, insurance and legal aid. ITA and Roadmasters dissolved in the 1980s.

In 1962, at 29, he rode halfway across the country on horseback to protest “19th-century laws” governing truckers.

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