By Al Muskewitz
The National Truck Driving Championship may be canceled for the second year in a row, but by popular demand the Alabama Trucking Association is determined to get back on the course.
“We have full intention of pulling one off even with all the obstacles we’re facing right now,” ATA vice president of safety and compliance Tim Frazier told Wright Media. “This year the nationals are canceled and a lot of states have canceled, but I’ve had several phone calls from drivers who are regular long-time participants and they’re gnashing at the teeth wanting to do a TDC.
“I told them guys just hang on, if it all comes together, we’re going to make it happen. If we can get enough players, we’re going.”
The tentative date is May 28 in the traditional setting of the Oak Mountain Amphitheater and Pelham Civic Complex parking lot. More than 100 drivers participated when it was last held in 2019.
The American Trucking Associations canceled this year’s NTDC for the second year in a row in February due to continued restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic; it had been scheduled for Aug. 11-14 in Minneapolis. It will resume in Indianapolis in 2022.
Because some of the state’s major carriers who typically send large contingents to the TDC are still under travel restrictions and won’t be able to participate, the Alabama field made be smaller than usual. By the same token it may open opportunities for smaller carriers to take home some hardware.
“The only thing that will hold us back would be a lack of participation,” Frazier said. “We’ll see what kind of response we’ll get. If we can get about 30-35 drivers to participate, it’ll be considerably smaller than usual, but we’ll go ahead and pull it off.”
One of those long-time competitors, 2018 Alabama Grand Champion Mark Knight of AAA Cooper Transportation, isn’t sure he’ll be able to participate this year for scheduling reasons, but he is glad the opportunity exists.
“Last year, of course, was very disappointing; it was the first time in 18 years I have not competed in a single competition and normally I do two to three a year,” Knight said. “I think it’s great that Alabama is competing. Like most people I’m ready to get back to normal.”
The competition will follow all the rules of the NTDC. Drivers will be judged on their pre-trip inspection, knowledge on a written test and, of course, negotiating the six-station skills course.
Organizers are still working on the course design, but it promises to be as challenging as usual.
“We’ve kicked some thoughts and ideas around,” Frazier said. “We’ll see probably some of the same old obstacles but we’re going to try to slip a couple of new ones in there.”
Al Muskewitz is Editor of Wright Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.