Professional drivers compete in a previous Professional Truck Driving Championship event.
WINNIPEG, Man. — After an economy-inflicted hiatus of a year, the National Professional Truck Driving Championships are back on track for 2010.
And while the financial world still isn’t trucking along at a speed most people would like, the 2010 event’s organizers in Winnipeg say it’s full speed ahead anyway, with things looking good so far.
“We started getting the ball rolling on this even before we knew the nationals were cancelled last year,” says Susan Green, program and member services coordinator for the Manitoba Trucking Association (MTA). “As far as we’re concerned it’s kind of been a long-term project that we’ve been working on the entire time, so I don’t really feel too much pressure in reviving the event because there was never any question that we weren’t going to do it.”
MTA manager Geoff Sine agrees, saying the event is not only going forward, but that it’s just another day at work for the planners. “From our perspective,” he says, “it’s not really a logistical nightmare because it’s very similar to what we do in the provincials, then you add in a few different dinners and things that we do with our members anyway.”
Sine says the organization committee’s main concern is to make sure it’s a quality event and that people “have a great time and that it meets their expectations. But there’s no worry in our mind about getting this done and meeting those expectations.”
Last year’s event, planned for British Columbia, was cancelled due to a lack of sponsorship. Yet the movers and shakers behind the 2010 event, scheduled for Sept. 16-19 this year, aren’t worried.
“We’ve done this before,” Sine reports. “We’ve already approached our sponsors and feel very confident that we will have the support of the industry.” Sine says they aren’t putting all their eggs into the sponsorship basket, however. “We’ve also set up realistic expectations and have budgeted accordingly and know that if we didn’t have a cent of sponsorship, we could still go forward and make a success of it.”
Green says they have one firm confirmation for sponsorship so far, with other pending sponsors looking positive.
The venue is in place already, and there’s a chance an even more desirable one might be available: Canad Inns Stadium, which is right across from the hotel. The question of whether the stadium will be able to host the championships will be answered once the CFL football schedule has been finalized and it’s known if the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will play at home that September weekend.
Green and Sine credit a “really strong organizing committee that includes a number of people who have been involved at the national level for a number of years,” with crafting a schedule that includes not only a skills and schmoozing fest but one that’s also attractive to potential attendees financially.
“With what’s been going on in the industry we don’t want to be making drastic increases,” Sine says. “We’re planning an event based on what we’ve been seeing in the industry, which means we’re planning an event with a budget in mind.”
He says they plan to hold the price at the 2008 rate of $450.
Green reports the Canad Inn Polo Park hotel has been booked, with the room rates set last year. “We’ve got really good competitive rates on the rooms for everyone. And everything’s being held at the same hotel – the reception, the awards banquet, the team meetings, everything.”
Rooms will cost around $110 a night, according to Sine, and they’ve arranged with the hotel for meeting space to be available for the teams. “In the past, I guess it’s been up to the teams or the team leader to get the room or a suite, but this way they can just book time and have their team meetings right in the hotel.”
The reception and “meet and greet” are set for Thursday night. Friday will be split between a morning session and an afternoon during which the teams can meet and other folk will be able to just get out and poke around Winnipeg.
“We’re planning an enjoyable but not too late night on Friday,” Green says, noting that since they’re having to wait for various schedules to come out they can’t book or announce anything officially yet. The obstacle course and the awards banquet will run on Saturday, with Sunday set for “fond farewells and the last meeting of the team reps,” says Green.
For more information, contact Geoff Sine or Susan Green directly at the MTA (204-632-6600) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. They’ll also be setting aside a section of the MTA Web site at www.trucking.mb.ca for National Championships information.
“The Manitoba Trucking Association really feels this is an important event, a way to recognize some of the most important people in our industry – the drivers,” says Green. “There’s not necessarily a lot out there for the drivers and this is a way to recognize them, sort of the industry’s way of saying thank you to them for their professionalism and for their skills. And for what they do to keep the rest of us going.”
The return of the National Professional Truck Driving Championships after a year off may not be exactly like a phoenix rising from its ashes – more like a hiccough, perhaps – and the organizers have no intention of playing it as if it’s the Great New Hype.
“We’re not reviving it with a big bang hoopla,” Green says. “We’re just staying the course. This is an important event and it’s something we want to see continue. Last year, provincially, with everything that was going on our goal was to just stay the course and keep the event going. That’s sort of our goal with the nationals.”
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