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How to Become a Truck Driving Superstar

September 5, 2019

NTDC 2019

FedEx drivers celebrate first place finishes in their respective classes at the 2019 National Truck Driving Championships.


Scott Woodrome has logged more than 1.9 million safe-driving miles during his 14-year career with FedEx. That’s enough to drive from New York City to Los Angeles nearly 700 times without causing an accident.

Woodrome’s impeccable record has earned him 14 consecutive appearances at the National Truck Driving Championships (NTDC). Every year thousands of drivers compete to qualify for the NTDC, often referred to as the “Super Bowl of Safety”. Woodrome became the first driver in 20 years to win back-to-back Grand Champion honors when he took home the top spot at the 2019 event in Pittsburgh, Pa.

A total of five FedEx drivers placed first in their respective classes at the 2019 NTDC. Collectively, Team FedEx represented 48 states and had more than 4,000 years of professional driving experience and 254 million miles of safe driving during their careers.

When it comes to operating big trucks safely, no one does it better than this decorated group of FedEx drivers. We asked them to share their experiences competing at the NTDC.


Scott Woodrome NTDC 2019Scott Woodrome – City Driver, FedEx Freight
2019 NTDC Grand Champion and National Twins Champion

You’ve been named a National Champion four times in the last five years, and a Grand Champion two years in a row. How do you maintain excellence and consistency year after year?

I never take past wins for granted. In order to succeed, you must know that you can do it. It’s a process and takes lots of practice. Multiple trips to the nationals allow a competitor to feel more relaxed. There is so much preparation that goes into it. There’s the mental aspect, the physical conditioning, and also the spiritual well-being.

What does it mean to you to be named Grand Champion for a second year in a row?

The other competitors are some of the top drivers in maneuvering their equipment within tight limits. I have a great respect for the drivers who care about safety and have the desire to improve in all areas of their vocation. It is very special to me to be named National Grand Champion for the second year in a row.

How do you adjust to competing indoors on a closed course and driving in front of people in the grandstand?

It is definitely different inside than outside. The more experience you have at NTDC, the more it lessens the nervous tension. You have to be more focused on the course and not on the people in the grandstand. Some of us do this daily by having motorists wait and watch as we back across the street. Sometimes we make the national stage bigger than it really is.

Why is NTDC important to you?

It is important because I get to see all of my friends. This event is like a family reunion. This program promotes safety and improves the image of the professional truck driver by demonstrating professionalism on our nation’s highways.  


Paul Brandon NTDC 2019Paul Brandon – City Driver, FedEx Freight
2019 National Tank Truck Champion

 What was your biggest takeaway from the competition?

My biggest takeaway was the camaraderie among all the drivers, despite the fact that we are all competitors. The bond that holds all of us together is not defined by the color of the trucks we drive but by our goal of safety.

How do you adjust to competing indoors on a closed course and driving in front of people in the grandstand?

I like driving indoors. The surface is perfectly smooth, although the glare off the floor can make it hard to see the obstacles sometimes. I drive with the windows down to eliminate glare. When looking in the mirrors I want to hear and feel everything going on around me, especially the energy from the crowd.

How challenging were the courses? How challenging is it to drive an unfamiliar truck?

The courses were good and fair tests of skill. There are no real guessing-game problems. The biggest challenge is your plan of setting up from one problem to the next. Luckily, I’ve driven different trucks when I practice, so you hope it’s one you prefer.

What feeling did you have when your name was called out as a National Champion?

For me the competition is an emotional and adrenaline roller coaster. When I heard my name, I felt exhilaration, joy, relief, and excitement all wrapped up together and pounding through me!


Adam Heim NTDC 2019Adam Heim – City Driver, FedEx Freight
2019 National 4-Axle Champion

 As a first-time NTDC competitor, what did you do to prepare for the competition?

I have been competing in state truck driving championship competitions for 10 years and each year in late winter I start reading and studying the newest version of Facts for Drivers. As for the pre-trip inspection and obstacle course, I have worked throughout the year to incorporate both into my daily routine.

What was your biggest takeaway from the competition?

My greatest takeaway from this year’s NTDC would have to be the people. We were truly amazed at the incredible camaraderie, positivity and commitment from the drivers, their families and the truck driving industry as a whole in the common goal of keeping the motoring public safe.

How do you adjust to competing indoors on a closed course and driving in front of people in the grandstand?

I am actually most comfortable during the driving part of the competition. As drivers, we are constantly challenged by factors beyond our control: environment, equipment, weather conditions, the motoring public and many more. For me, competing at the NTDC closely resembles the challenges of my daily work.

Why is NTDC important to you?

The NTDC represents the common goal of every driver and their commitment towards creating a safer roadway for all drivers. The competition helps promote a positive perspective of the trucking industry while raising awareness of safe driving practices in sharing the road.


Basher Pierce NTDC 2019Basher Pierce – City Driver, FedEx Freight
2019 National Flatbed Champion

What was the biggest challenge you faced this year during NTDC?

Nerves. I have been doing the truck driving championships since 1995 and still get nervous. Just hoping the quarter-inch closer was the hero and not the zero because the truck driving championships are a game of inches.

How do you adjust to competing indoors on a closed course and driving in front of people in the grandstand?

Once in the truck, I don’t see anyone because I am concentrating on the problem at hand. Driving outside is different than driving inside but I just keep practicing.

How challenging were the courses you competed on? How challenging is it to drive an unfamiliar truck?

Very challenging. I have to take my hat off to whomever with the American Trucking Associations came up with the problems. They took some thought. You had to figure out if you had room or not. A truck you don’t drive every day is hard to figure out.

What feeling did you have when your name was called out as a National Champion?

Awesome. Blessed. A great feeling. Excited. It is like all the hard work and all the long practices throughout the year paid off.


Adam Stroup NTDC 2019Adam Stroup – Courier, FedEx Express
2019 National Step Van Champion

What was your biggest takeaway from the competition?
My biggest takeaway from NTDC is all the friendships you make, each of us wants to be a National Champ, but everyone supports and celebrates each other. Safety and a huge support system gets you to the Truck Driving Championships.

What was the biggest challenge you faced this year during the NTDC?
The ATA did a great job this year of putting a challenging competition together. The biggest challenge of all is the tough competitors. Everyone spent months studying and preparing for this week.

What feeling did you have when your name was called out as a National Champion?
What?! No way!! We did it! I don’t know where to start because I had so many people help me. I had so many people believe in me. My wife, family, and friends all helped me along the way. Surround yourself with great people and great things happen. Thanks to my FedEx family for supporting the NTDC.

Why is NTDC important to you?
It’s all about safety. It’s nice to get together with the best of the best and celebrate another year of safe driving. Plus talking with other drivers and their families about how they stay safe always keeps me focused on ways to keep the roads safe for everyone and makes me want to return next year.


Comments

    Martha Smith says:

    I would like to honor a FedEx employee that delivered in my area. He noticed my American Flag slid and was falling down from its pole. It was just hanging there at the bottom of the pole. I wanted to but could not fix it. I’m older, retired, and disabled. I live alone. This young man knocked on my door and pointed out the fallen flag. He asked if he could rehang that for me. He did! How admirable. Honors to this young man who stands for America. Please honor him. I sure do.

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