We caught up with the Grand Champion from last month's national driving championships
October 22, 2015
REGINA, Sask. – Ken Wiebe is no stranger to winning. This year’s Grand Champion driver at the National Truck Driving Championships, winner of the B-Train category and member of Team Manitoba, has won four other titles out of the 11 times he’s competed. He also copped top prize in his B-Train category in 2013, 2012, 2010 and 2008, so one could think this is old hat to the veteran driver. And maybe it is.
“I just like the competitive side of it,” Wiebe told Truck West shortly after learning of his win in September. “It’s always been fun.”
He said one of the reasons he throws his hat into the ring year after year is to “just try to take your driving to the next level; it keeps you sharp, that’s for sure.”
And even though he has a track record of success at such events, he’s not about to get complacent.
“It’s always the top drivers in the Nationals,” he said. “Everybody is at a top level and you never know where you’re going to end up. Your heart’s jumping out of your chest in these things. Get out of the truck and you’re still shaking, the nerves never go away.”
He said the nerves start taking a toll on him even before the competition begins.
“Trying to sleep the night before, to be competitive, is always a challenge.” He noted that competitors can sometimes tell if they’ve had a good run or not, but that doesn’t mean they know how their results will stack up against the other gladiators.
The Grand Champion grew up on a farm in MacGregor, about 130 kilometres west of Winnipeg.
“We always ran equipment, tractors, trucks and the like. I started working on a large grain farm and from there was told I’d make a good trucker, so I tried it.”
That put the bug into him and “Once you get it into your system it stays here,” he said, adding that he still prefers being behind the wheel rather than snagging a desk job.
“I like being outdoors and working outside rather than being in an office,” he said. “I like hands-on stuff, getting out and doing the hard work.”
Wiebe drives for Winnipeg’s EBD Enterprises, hauling steel out of the Gerdan mill in Selkirk, a gig he’s had for 28 years now.
“They treat me good and I’m home at night,” he said. “There are long days sometimes but I get my weekends off, and that’s tough to find in trucking.”
Besides trucking, he also plays guitar. “It’s kind of a hobby,” he said. “I grew up in a musical family and spent a lot of time doing that.”
Wiebe said he also lends his musical talent to a couple of bands. “Regular runs help make that possible,” he said, adding that he tries to play once a week.
Getting ready for the Nationals took some preparation, the married father of four said, but it was nothing that was too far out of his duties or his comfort zone.
“All my customers’ places I go to, there’s always lots of challenges getting into places, backing into places,” he said. “There’s always obstacles.” He was impressed by this year’s incarnation of the competition, noting it takes “A lot of time to put together, and with lots of people involved.”
As for the industry he loves and represents so well, the Harley aficionado thinks the more people who enter it, the merrier.
“There’s always demand for truckers, so it’s a good business to get into,” he said. “It’s an excellent business, never boring, and there’s always something going on. Every day there’s a new challenge, for sure.”
Wiebe’s next challenge could very well be defending his overall title win. And with his record, it might be foolish to bet against him.