Pilot Flying J was founded as Pilot Travel Centers on November 15, 1993 in a joint venture between Pilot Corporation and Marathon Petroleum Company. Immediately all Pilot Truck Stops were converted into Pilot Travel Centers. At its inception, the number of stops was around 60; however, that was to be short-lived.
In the next few years, Pilot Travel Centers experienced significant growth. Marathon converted many Speedway truck stops, wholly owned by Marathon, over to the Pilot Travel Center moniker starting in mid-2002. Midway through 2003, another major expansion occurred with the purchase of the Williams Truck Stop chain. The Marathon-Pilot joint venture successfully increased the Pilot Travel Center name recognition throughout the United States, as the number of stops more than quadrupled.
In 2008, Pilot bought out Marathon's interest in the business and entered into a new partnership arrangement with CVC Capital Partners, an international private equity firm. Pilot also has partnerships with Road Ranger and Town Pump. In October 2014, Pilot Flying J announced they would borrow funds to provide a $750 million dividend to shareholders and facilitate a buyout of its private-equity partner CVC Capital Partner. In 2015, the Haslam family completed the buyout of CVC Capital Partner's stake.