Steve Cardinale “The Godfather of Towing”


Steve ran Atlas Towing in the Bay Area throughout the 70s and 80s. He earned his nickname “The Godfather of San Francisco” during this time because he was so well liked by customers and competitors. Steve helped start the Greater Bay Area Chapter of CTTA, was awarded “Member of the Year” in 1982 and served as chapter president in 1987. It was during his stint as president that he began early tow truck training and safety instruction. Also in 1987, the Towing and Recovery Association of America honored him with the Distinguished Service Award. In 1989 Steve was inducted into the Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame in Chattanooga, Tenn., and in 1993 he received the CTTA Life Achievement Award. In 2005, CTTA awarded him the CTTA Humanitarian Award. These are just a few of the many awards and achievements bestowed upon Steve.

Soon after selling Atlas Towing, Steve was asked to begin development of the CTTA education program. He eagerly accepted and served as training director for the CTTA for 20 years, developing, improving and teaching towing professionals throughout California and across the country. Steve was soon dubbed The Godfather of Towing.

In his retirement, Steve became the trainer of both towers and other trainers for The California Tow Truck Association (CTTA) and conducted classes throughout the state and beyond. He also was a founding member of Friends of Towing, memorialized in the Hall of Fame and was always one of the first to show up at a tow show to help set up and man the trailer. I remember the CTTA show in San Diego some 25 years ago when Steve appeared in a wheel chair looking as though his life was all but over. But he came back quickly and I saw him only a year later at the Oregon show where he looked like a million bucks and was there to teach a class on towing.

His life was all about the towing industry. His passion was improving T & R in every way possible, making friends along the way. Several years ago CTTA commissioned a bronze bust of Steve which they donated to the Towing Museum in Chattanooga.

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