With the red Chiefs mercury in the thermometer at one of the highest levels in decades, it may be hard to decide who is the greatest area Chiefs fan.
Sedalia resident Rob Hardwick is taking it to the streets to prove his devotion to the team and helping spread pride throughout Chiefs Kingdom and across the country.
Hardwick has been a truck driver since age 18. A Chiefs fan since “before birth,” last year Hardwick decided to let others know just how devoted he is.
“I always listen to the Sirius NFL XM Radio constantly. If I’m awake and in the truck, I’m listening to it when I am on the road,” Hardwick said by phone Friday on his way home to Sedalia. “I always call in to the show.”
Last year a call screener for the program took a call from Hardwick and asked him his nickname. Hardwick replied “Tomahawk” and from there the idea was born.
“I told them I was riding across Chiefs Kingdom and Jeff Rickard (host of the program) said ‘next up we have Tomahawk and he’s riding across the Chiefs Kingdom in his truck, ‘Warpaint.’”
About three weeks later Hardwick said he passed a truck with a similar bright red paint job emblazoned with flames on the hood. That was just the inspiration Hardwick needed.
“I soon as I saw that truck I said, ‘I’ll see your flames and I’ll raise you with some feathers,” Hardwick recalled. “From that moment, I knew what I wanted to do with the truck.”
Hardwick had some ideas in mind but he gives complete credit for the finished look of his semi to artist Erica Weathers-Lowe.
Weathers-Lowe is a graphic designer at Impact Signs in Sedalia. For her, the work was both a challenge and a source of pride.
“Rob comes in to get decals on his door for his semi, and he had this crazy idea that he told me about,” Weathers-Lowe said Friday morning. “I thought it would be awesome to do, so I started to design his idea.
“At first, it was just the Indian headdress, then the door vinyl that is similar to the NFL logo,” she continued. “I got all that done and then he said it's missing something — that's when it turns into the Chiefs-theme semi.”
It was the addition of Warpaint, one of the Chiefs’ mascots, that made the truck complete, according to Weathers-Lowe.
“That horse was a challenge to design, but I figured it out and again it turned out awesome,” Weathers-Lowe explained. “The process took about seven months to complete.”
Weathers-Lowe was grateful for the opportunity to have full control of the design once Hardwick suggested some thoughts on what he would like to see. She was also grateful to see Hardwick’s reaction to the finished product, although Hardwick has indicated he has some more ideas.
“He was in love, he kept saying that's badass.. smiling from ear to ear,” Weathers-Lowe remarked. “I love when a customer falls in love with a design like that.”
Weathers-Lowe, like Hardwick, is a die-hard Chiefs fan. Both plan to watch the game Sunday.
“I’m just telling you right now if the Chiefs happen to lose my hopes and dreams are going to be shattered,” Hardwick said. “Those sounds everyone will hear will be me crying out…”
Hardwick has plans following the Chiefs’ potential win on Sunday. He explained he would be available to make the trip to Miami to help haul equipment for the team if needed. He’d also make a few victory laps around Nashville, Tennessee, before heading to Miami and the Super Bowl, he added with a laugh.
“Everyone has been very, very positive, especially all my customers,” he said. “I will be driving along and people will do the tomahawk chop as they pass. It’s a lot of fun having it on here.
Hardwick plans to continue driving across Chiefs Kingdom hoping to help expand support for the team wherever the road leads him.
“If you see me on the road, honk and wave,” Hardwick asked. “As long as there is me, it’s all about the Chiefs.”