Lewis “Junior” Pippin and his wife Lisa stand by one of the dump trucks in his fleet, which haul rocks for Vulcan Materials. (Staff Photo: Karen Rohr)
CONYERS — With some 50 vehicles – 30 of them dump trucks – in his fleet, longtime Rockdale County resident Lewis “Junior” Pippin feels most at home when he’s driving.
“My family first went in this business in 1958,” Pippin, who owns Junior Pippin Trucking Co., said. “I was raised up in this stuff and I was 5 or 6 years old and Dad bought a couple of dump trucks and I went with him to pick them up and it ruined me for life, I guess. I knew at a young age that this is what I wanted to do.”
Pippin, 60, started his own trucking company in 1969 with one Mack truck and he’s weathered the ups and downs of business and the economy ever since. These days, he does a lot of work for Vulcan Materials, hauling rock from the company’s Conyers and Grayson quarries, and his trucks are a frequent sight in and around metro Atlanta.
When Pippin’s not on the road, he can usually be found on the drag strip, racing his Pro Stock motorcycle on the iconic National Hot Rod Association circuit. He has long felt the need for speed, and was a seven-time All Harley Drag Racing Association national champion before joining the NHRA in 2007.
“The business funds my racing side. I really don’t make any money racing – I just enjoy doing it,” Pippin, who started racing cars in 1968 and got into motorcycles a few years later, said. “Racing is a passion of mine. It’s truly what I love to do. I do it to get away from work.”
But in 2012, Pippin’s interest in racing took a back seat as he left his hobby behind to care for his wife Lisa, who was diagnosed with cancer.
“Until Lisa got sick, we would race all over the country,” he said. “When she got sick, I had to concentrate all my efforts on getting her better.”
A longtime supporter of cancer research, Pippin was determined to continue to do his part to fight the disease. Earlier this year, Pippin bought several new trucks and painted them black and pink to raise awareness of the fight against cancer, and now that he’s returned to the drag strip, his Pro Stock Buell cycle will also sport pink.
“We’ve got two dump trucks with pink lettering and the breast cancer ribbons on them,” he said. “And I’ve got a partnership with (merchandiser) PiranaZ to sell T-shirtS, and any money I make qualifying next year, I’ll donate to the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University.
“I want to raise money and awareness because breast cancer is a hideous disease – any cancer is,” he said. “I’ve seen what Lisa went through and it’s terrible, it’s frightening and it scares you half to death. So I’m doing what I can do and hopefully one day they’ll find a cure. And I believe if anybody will do it, it will be Emory.”
Pippin said that Lisa is now in remission, which contributed to his decision to return to the NHRA, and he said he plans to compete in nine races this year (including the 34th annual Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce) and may even take part in the entire 16-race season.
Pippin’s devotion to his wife and his determination to help in the fight against cancer are a reflection of his business ethos.
“If I tell somebody I’m going to do something, I’ll do it,” he said. “That’s what my dad taught me – do what you say you will do.”
Chris Starrs is a freelance writer based in Athens. To contact him, email email@example.com.