He is a third-generation trucker with nearly three decades of experience from western Massachusetts. He has multiple state titles and a national title in the tanker division under his belt. And now he is preparing for the big show with the discipline of an Olympic athlete.
Singelais needs a third hand to hold all of his Massachusetts hardware. (Courtesy of Brian Singelais)
Frito-Lay’s Brian Singelais, Massachusetts’ grand champion, again, has won the blue ribbon at states five times. He’s earned seven trips to the National Truck Driving Championships. Last year, he came up short at nationals and sat back and watched as his buddy and fellow New Englander Roland Bolduc of FedEx Express won the overall gold medal.
Singelais is ecstatic for Bolduc’s success. But, he emphasized, “I want another shot.”
Safety is a religion for the drivers who qualify for the national dance. Singelais has a simple recipe for success: Work hard. His commitment to dedicating long hours reviewing the annual guidebook for drivers, waking up early to repeat various pre-trip inspection drills and practicing driving maneuvers is enviable.
“I gotta study the book more. A lot of times, especially at nationals, the competition is won in the back room, between the written test and the pre-trip. So it’s going to be really focusing on my routine when I pre-trip a truck. So it’s basically muscle memory. You do it without thinking. You know, ‘cause you don’t have time to think,” Singelais explained. At nationals, competitors are evaluated on their performance on a written test, a pre-trip inspection, and an obstacle course.
Video: Singelais competes at nationals in 2015 en route to winning the tank truck division.
Pro trip: At the pre-trip, do no glance over the truck. Commit to a meticulous inspection. A common mistake on the part of most rookies is to overlook major flaws. Last year, Singelais admitted he missed an obvious defect.
Humility at nationals also will take competitors far. In a room filled with grand champions, the top prize is anybody’s to win. When drivers are trapped competing with the country’s best, the winning outcome often is the culmination of myriad tasks.
“I don’t think I’m all that. Or, I don’t do the conceited thing. I try to stay humble, is what I’m saying,” Singelais explained.
Who: Winners from nine categories at the state level advance to the national competition, with a grand champion crowned
What: Contestants are judged on a written examination and their driving skills
When: Aug. 15-18
Where: Columbus, Ohio
At states, Singelais also won the pre-trip inspection portion en route to his grand champion status. Bolduc, the defending national grand champion, earned the blue ribbon in the 5-axle class to qualify again for nationals.
Facing off against his famous pal and contemporary, as well as catching up with drivers from around the country captures the essence of the national tournament. Singelais said he loves to celebrate the craft.
“The level of quality people, friendly people at the nationals is just mind-blowing. And, the first time I went to nationals I was blown away. And when I got back to my job, and guys were asking, ‘How was it?’ I was like, ‘I wish every one of you drivers here could experience nationals. ’Cause it’s an experience like you’ve never experienced before,’” Singelais said. “You’re treated with the utmost respect by everybody. You are the drivers of America that delivers America’s goods, ‘cause if it wasn’t for drivers of America, this country would not be able to sustain itself; would not be able to survive.”
He added, “We gotta move America’s goods in order to prosper.”
Also qualifying for nationals from Massachusetts were:
- Rich Alimberti, FedEx Express, Straight Truck
- Chris Buswell, Sysco Foods, 4-axle
- Joe Barone, Garelick Farms, Sleeper Berth
- Rich Sweeney, XPO Logistics, Tank Truck
- Steve Capone, FedEx Express, Flatbed
- Richard Grey, FedEx Freight, Twins
- Bob Ledoux, FedEx Express, Step Van
The National Truck Driving Championships take place Aug. 15-18 in Columbus, Ohio. Winners from nine categories at the state level advance to the national competition.