Thursday, June 12, 2014

Twice as nice for Nuckolls at Alabama TDC

Gary Nuckolls, a veteran driver for AAA Cooper Transportation, posted a high score of 364 points, earning the right to lift the Grand Champion trophy at the Alabama Trucking Association’s Truck Driving Championships held June 6 in Birmingham. It was his second straight Grand Champion title.

A former Alabama Truck Driver of the Year (2004) and a class winner at numerous Alabama TDCs, Nuckolls this year won the 4-Axle Van class by 73 points, edging his closest class winner by 33 points. He even improved his overall high score from the previous year by more than 30 points.

“He has been one of the more consistently dominant TDC competitors of the last decade or so,” said ATA Director of Safety Tim Frazier, who oversees the tournament. “He wins or places in the top three nearly every year. We even have requests from other competitors asking which class he is going to be in so they can move to another one.”

He and the rest of the class winners will represent the state at the American Trucking Associations’ National Truck Driving Championships set for August 12-16 in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Other class winners were Mike Manzella of Wal-Mart Transportation, Five-Axle; Mike Umphrey  of Conway Freight, Three Axle; Rusty Holmes of UPS Freight, Tank Trailer; Steve Brannen of Wal-Mart Transportation, Sleeper Berth; Stephen Pressley of AAA Cooper, Flatbed; Glenn Murks of Wal-Mart Transportation, Straight Truck; and Tony Johnson of UPS Freight, Step Van.

The annual event, sponsored by ATA’s Safety and Maintenance Management Council (SMMC), attracted nearly 100 drivers representing more than a dozen Association member firms, and approximately 300 onlookers who spent the day grilling, watching the festivities, and cheering competitors.

Alabama TDC contestants are chosen by their individual employers for their safety and driving record and must remain accident-free (regardless of fault) for one year to be eligible to compete. Most of them win company contests to qualify for the state competition.

Other honors were given to Rookie of the Year Straight Class contestant James Sharpe of Buddy Moore Transportation who scored a combined 227 point; Patrick Bright of Wal-Mart Transportation who posted the highest score (40 out of 50) on the pre-trip inspection portion of the competition; and Ladies SUV Champ Cindy Cosper.

The event raised an estimated $24,000, which came from corporate sponsorships and contestant entry fees. After expenses, proceeds benefit the SMMC’s diesel technician education program that awards cash scholarships to deserving students at various state community colleges.

“Once again, the support from our member firms, either through the donation of funds or equipment and even just sending drivers to compete is crucial to the success of this event,” said TDC Chairman Johnathan Marshall of P&S Transportation.

Frazier added that “this year we didn’t quite have the number of contestants we usually have due to the freight being so strong and some of our smaller carriers simply couldn’t spare their drivers, but we are extremely grateful for those who could support our event.”