Every year at the National Truck Driving Championships, a few truckers enter the competition as favorites to win their class, and even the overall prize.
In their way are the first-timers who are glad they qualified and often get lost in the bright lights and big arena.
Then, there’s that group of talented drivers who continue to improve in the standings with each passing year and organizers know it’ll only be a matter of time before they eventually earn a best-in-show ribbon.
Todd Flippin, of FedEx Freight, Colorado’s Grand Champion and Twin Trailers victor, is the trucker-next-door very capable of returning home with that big trophy.
After thrice earning Grand Champion at states, Flippin is punching his fifth ticket to the “Super Bowl of Safety.” Despite his overwhelming humility, Flippin is training for his moment in the national spotlight. Literally.
“I feel good, but it’s going to be tough,” he told Transport Topics recently. “There’s a lot of good competitors from other states that are going to be there. But, you know what, you can say that every single year. So, [I] just go and do my best and do what I’ve done in the past and we’ll see what happens.”
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
He emphasized, “Every year is different. Just go and do the best you can and see what happens. But I do enjoy the intensity and the competition. It gets your blood flowing. That’s for sure.”
The Twins division has typically been among the most challenging classes, due to the trailers’ configuration. At nationals, competitors are tested on safety rules, a pre-trip inspection and a driving course. Flippin expounded on the trailers’ uniqueness: “The pre-trip is a challenge ‘cause you kind of have to reset yourself when you get to the second trailer.”
The drivers acknowledge the support from family, peers and mentors. Trucking is a craft, a lifestyle, and a way for drivers to earn a living.
“I didn’t do this by myself. There’s no way. You have to have some help along the way,” Flippin said. “So, it’s a thrill to be a part of it, I’ll just say that.”
The Colorado qualifiers were June 2, and joining Flippin at nationals will be:
- Brook Figgins of FedEx Freight in Sleeper Berth
- David Mogler of FedEx Freight in 3-axle
- Dutch Burch of FedEx Freight in 4-axle
- Jason West of McLane Foodservice in 5-axle
- Christopher Perna of FedEx Freight in Tanker
- Juan Galindo of Old Dominion in Straight Truck
- Ralph Tibbetts of FedEx Freight in Flatbed
- Eric Damon of FedEx Express in Step Van.
The National Truck Driving Championships are scheduled for Aug. 15-18 in Columbus, Ohio.