Alabama truck drivers gear up for industry’s top prize
Next week, the American Trucking Associations will welcome more than 420 of the industry’s top professional truck drivers to Orlando for the 80th National Truck Driving Championships and National Step Van Driving Championships.
Ready for the challenge, the Alabama Trucking Association is sending perhaps its most veteran team yet, with more than half of the guys making a return trip to Nationals. The current team includes Steven Brannen of Walmart Transportation, 4-Axle; Rodney Cosper, UPS Freight, Sleeper Berth; Robert Davis, FedEx Freight, Step Van; David Hawk, FedEx Freight, Straight Truck; Rusty Holmes, UPS Freight, Twins; Thomas Garner, FedEx Freight, Tank Truck; Michael Manzella, Walmart Transportation, Flatbed; Charlie Salter, FedEx Freight, 5-Axle; and Dan Thompson, FedEx Freight, 3-Axle.
“The National TDC is among the most important events for our industry,” said ATA Chairman of the Board Terry Kilpatrick (President of Billy Barnes Enterprises, Frisco City, Ala.). “Not only does it showcase the professionalism and dedication of our industry’s most valuable resource – the American truck driver, but it also rewards these men and women for outstanding efforts in highway safety, fleet safety and vehicle maintenance. This event puts a spotlight on the cream of the crop for our industry, and we’re proud to have these nine guys represent Alabama. I know they will do well.”
National ATA President and CEO Chris Spear adds, “Safety and precision will be the focus of these impressive professional truck drivers during this week in Orlando as they compete for honors at the National Truck Driving Championships. Truck drivers work their entire careers and practice for moments like this to showcase their safety skills and compete among friends.”
The National Truck Driving Championships open Aug. 9 with competitors taking a walk-through of the driving course and registering for the different class events. From there, competitors will go on to compete in three phases of competition: a written examination testing background knowledge of rules and procedures pertinent to the trucking industry, a vehicle inspection to test competitors’ ability to detect vehicle malfunctions, and a driving skills test where competitors are graded on their ability to operate a truck through a series of obstacles.
Over three days, 428 competitors from all 50 states, including 35 first-time participants, representing 97 companies will compete for honors in one of eight different classes and the distinction of being crowned National Truck Driving Championships Bendix Grand Champion.
The competition concludes on Aug. 12 with the announcement of the National Truck Driving Championships Bendix Grand Champion, along with the winners of each vehicle class and awards for the top performing state delegation, rookie of the year and other awards.
“These championships are a great spectacle and I couldn’t be more proud to interact with drivers from all corners of the country,” said ATA Chairman Kevin Burch, President of Jet Express Inc. “The drivers take this event very seriously and practice and study year-round in preparation for the competition. Their dedication to their craft is really remarkable and representative of the trucking industry’s strong commitment to safety.”
The Allied Committee for the Trucking Industry is the event’s premiere sponsor.