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B.C.’s best compete for chance at nationals

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. -- The weather was perfect for driving when the B.C. Trucking Association hosted its 2010 Pro...

A driver competes in the B.C. provincial truck driving championships.
A driver competes in the B.C. provincial truck driving championships.

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — The weather was perfect for driving when the B.C. Trucking Association hosted its 2010 Provincial Driving Championships on June 26.

That may have been a bonus considering what conditions can be like in the Lower Mainland. “It was a little bit overcast and kind of cool for most of the day,” reports Michele Nicol, director of business operations for the BCTA, “which was perfect for us. We’ve had driving rain or melting sun, so we appreciated the weather this year.”

The event saw 57 competitors turn out to the Abbotsford Tradex Centre adjacent to the city’s airport, a venue the BCTA has been using for years now.

The conditions may also have contributed to the decent turnout that, while it wasn’t the largest number of entrants in the event’s history, was “actually a little bit better than some past years,” Nicol says. “We have a maximum of about 70 drivers that we can handle in one day, so it was a pretty full day for us.” She says they can run the championships with as little as 30-35 participants, though, so “this was a pretty good group.”

Also on hand were some 45 volunteers, including members of the organizing committee and representatives from ICBC and the RCMP. Nicol says a pretty good crowd was on-hand to witness the festivities, too. “

We had several hundred spectators, usually family members and other company representatives who were there to support the drivers. It was a good day.”

As with other provincial competitions – which follow a national set of rules that are similar country-wide – British Columbia’s event was split into three sections each driver had to complete. The first two components, the written test and the pre-trip inspection (where sneaky organizers plant defects on vehicles and the drivers have to find them), were done “in private” before the drivers were hung out to dry in front of their peers, friends and family for the obstacle course. There, their skills were challenged with such things as the alley dock, the right hand turn and the serpentine course. They also had to put a back wheel onto a scale.

To be eligible, each driver must have suffered no preventable accidents in the 12 months prior to the championships, a preventable accident potentially including even such minor occurrences as a broken taillight on a trailer.

When the dust settled, home-town boy Dean Grant, of Agrifoods International Co-op, drove away with the Grand Champion award.

Here’s a complete list of winners:

Grand Champion: Dean Grant, Abbotsford, Agrifoods International Co-op

Rookie of the Year: Rob Thiele, Langley, Simard Westlink Inc.

Safety Award: Tony Gomez, Burnaby, Canadian Freightways

Team Trophy: Canadian Freightways.

Other winners included: Tony Gomez, Canadian Freightways, step-van; Hans Wettstein, Canadian Freightways, straight truck; Evan Hirst, Canadian Freightways, single-single; Dale Scott, Canadian Freightways, single-tandem; Dean Grant, Agrifoods International Co-op, tandem-tandem; and Adam Besse, Canadian Freightways, B-train. The competition was followed by a banquet at the Sheraton Guildford in Surrey, at which time Arrow Transportation Systems’ Shaun Garvey (Chairman of the Organizing Committee) and Chief Judge Gary Ryder, of Chevron Canada, presented the awards. Each of the category winners is now able to head for the Nationals in Winnipeg.

The BCTA’s Nicol says the event was a success overall and she encourages company reps to turn out for the next Professional Driving Championships. “We also encourage them to enter their best professional drivers,” she says, adding that “One of the points of the championships is to recognize and celebrate the true professional full time truck drivers who are helping to keep the road safe, who are really the backbone of the industry.”



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