I’m writing this column with a mild sunburn on the back of my neck, a reminder of how I spent my weekend. I was out covering the Ontario Truck Driving Championships at the Flying J in London, Ont.
Most of this issue was already at the printer when the championships were held, so you’ll have to visit Trucknews.com for my full report, or wait for the September issue of Truck News.
But for now – Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Alert! – I can reveal that Home Hardware shone at the competition and will be sending three of the five Team Ontario contenders to the Nationals in Regina this fall.
These guys took the competition seriously and spent hours practicing in the company’s yard. Just a few nights before the provincials, Home Hardware drivers spent six hours practicing in the yard, navigating a makeshift obstacle course.
Joe Kuntz, grand champion and winner of the single-single division, said it took him about 50 attempts at the tricky alley dock during practice before he felt comfortable. And he’s a championship veteran – the only driver ever to have competed in the Central Ontario Regional Truck Driving Championships every year it’s been held, a period spanning more than two decades.
There were many great performances out on the course over championship weekend. The skills on display were incredible. How about this: for the first time ever, three drivers aced the pre-trip inspection component of the event, achieving perfect scores. It doesn’t get any better than perfect, and perfection is something you rarely see, even at this event.
Ontario isn’t the only province, of course, to host driving championships. These events are held from coast to coast, with the top performers going on to represent their province at the Nationals.
It was nice to see drivers receive the recognition they deserve and to see them given a platform through which to demonstrate their skills.
Here’s an interesting observation: the company that had the strongest showing at the Ontario championships was also recently named the safest large private fleet in Canada by the Private Motor Truck Council. Home Hardware won the award for the fifth time this year.
I don’t think this is any coincidence. Fleets that support the driving championships and encourage and enable their drivers to participate, create and foster a safety culture within their organization. And drivers who take the competition seriously and invest the time in practicing and preparing, increase their chances of hoisting the large winner’s trophy at the end of the day.
I look forward to seeing how Team Ontario – and all the other provincial teams –fare at the Nationals in Regina Sept. 10-12.
One thing is for certain: There’ll be winners, sure, but there won’t be any losers.