By Al Muskewitz
Wright Media Editor
So, Scott Woodrome, you just won the National Truck Driving Championship for the second year in a row – a rare feat indeed. What are you going to do next?
It’s not going to Disney World.
It was early Monday morning, maybe 36 hours after the NTDC concluded in Pittsburgh and Woodrome was back out on the road, running his regular rural P&D route for FedEx Freight out of Dayton, Ohio.
When it comes to moving freight, there’s no rest for the winning.
“Gotta go back to work,” Woodrome said after returning to his Middletown, Ohio, home.
With a combination of faith, guile, skill and good math, the 56-year-old former small college football player became just the second back-to-back National Grand Champion in the history of the competition and the first in 20 years.
“It’s just fantastic,” he said. “It’s unbelievable. It’s overwhelming. It’s really very special.
“It’s just the ultimate of anybody’s career. It’s a dream; when you come to nationals to set a high goal and when you achieve it, it’s just very fulfilling.”
Woodrome is the first repeat National Grand Champion since Pennsylvania driver Marty H. Lawson went back-to-back in 1998 (Twins) and 1999 (Sleeper Berth) and the fifth multiple winner of top honors since 1987, joining Lawson, Dale Duncan of California and Minnesota drivers Raymond Simon (a three-time winner) and Richard Gillespie on that elite list.
Woodrome won it out of the Tanker class last year. He won it in Twins this year, and he hasn’t driven that class of truck regularly in more than five years and, then, it wasn’t as regular as “regularly” would suggest. That’s what made this championship particularly special.
“This one was back to the chalkboard, back to the Xs and Os and blocking and tackling and having the insatiable desire to try to learn as much as I can about this equipment,” he said. “This was a little out of my comfort zone. Sometimes when you’re in that spot it makes you apply yourself a little bit more.
“You always try to do your best and it didn’t have to happen, but once things start getting rolling it’s kind of like you find yourself in the playoffs and if you’re here now you might as well play some ball.”
Twins was the seventh different class Woodrome has driven in 15 straight trips to the nationals and in many ways because of the trailer configuration and length of the tandem the most difficult. The only classes he’s yet to take are Straight Truck and Step Van, but don’t look for him in those because “I like the bigger classes because of the challenge of trying to make it fit.”
His run to the championship this year got off to a good start. He hit it out of the park in the written exam, one of nine drivers to post perfect scores in that phase of the championship.
Once they got down to driving Woodrome felt good about what he was doing, but didn’t know how good. Instead of looking back he focuses on the obstacle ahead that comes up a lot faster in a Twin, so he wasn’t aware judges were using flags to mark success. Competitors he’d pass in the common areas told him he scored on every obstacle, but it wasn’t until his scores were calculated against the field was he able to claim the win.
His victory was part of another good NTDC for FedEx. The system produced five of the nine class champions and placed 15 drivers among the top three in the nine divisions, including sweeps in Flatbed (all FedEx Freight) and Step Van (all FedEx Express). It has had six National Grand Champions, 62 national class champions and nine national rookies-of-the-year over the last 16 years.
“The slogan we have right now – and it’s not just a slogan – is FedEx believes safety is above all,” he said. “It’s not just a sign on the fence. It’s a culture that everybody’s involved in. It’s a lot of different than just saying it; you’ve got to believe it from management all the way down to the associates.”
With the serious business of the fun and games over for another year, safety above all is the message Woodrome took with him when he went back on the road at the beginning of another work week.
“It starts all over again with safety,” he said. “This is why we do this event, because safety is so important and life is so precious that we need to take it seriously because we share the road with a lot of people on our nation’s highways. When we we do it the right way, a little catchphrase I like to say is, once safety’s achieved everybody wins.”