For Delaware Grand Champion Louis Lockard of FedEx Freight, there is nothing better than being behind the wheel of a truck.
After finishing first in the 3-axle class at Delaware’s truck driving championships, Lockard, of Elkton, Md., has earned his fourth trip to nationals Aug. 15-18 in Columbus, Ohio.
Lockard’s 18-year career was inspired by the truck-driving stories he heard from his brother, John.
“I started out on the docks and got interested in being able to get out and move trailers and stuff like that. I asked if there was something available and they said yes,” Lockard said. “I went through school and haven’t looked back since.”
Since leaving the docks, Lockard, now 57, has racked up around 1.8 million safety miles and has competed at the state tournament 10 times.
When it comes to competing in the truck driving championships, Lockard doesn’t limit himself to one class. Lockard previously competed at nationals in 4-axle in 2012 and 2013 and Twins in 2017.
“I just change from time to time to get a roundabout on how different trailers react when backing up or turning,” Lockard said.
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
While Lockard likes to sample different classes, it hasn’t prevented him from having a favorite.
“4-axle is my favorite because it’s something I normally don’t do. I usually pull a set of doubles up and down the highway every year,” Lockard said. “I’ll move vans around yard and it’s just something that I like to do.”
Although Lockard didn’t compete in the 4-axle this year, he appreciates the change in pace the 3-axle demands of him.
“It’s kind of easier, but yet harder at the same time. It’s easier because it’s a smaller trailer because it’s a 3-axle, but yet it’s harder because that trailer turns a lot quicker than a 53-foot trailer would,” Lockard said.
Despite being Lockard’s first time competing in the 3-axle class at nationals, he is ready.
“I’m gonna go in like I always do; studying everything I can and doing my best. It’s all I can do. I’ll practice before I get there and then whatever happens, happens.”
When it comes to winning the grand champion title, Lockard feels “a sense of satisfaction.” However, according to Lockard, the real accomplishment comes from everyone being safe drivers.
“My favorite part of competition is knowing that every driver that has made it either to states or nationals has done the same thing. We’ve stayed safe, we’ve stayed accident-free every year,” Lockard said. “It gives the public a better view of the trucking industry.”
For his competitors, Lockard offers some advice.
“Just keep doing what you are doing every day. Going over your pre-trip, making sure everything is right the way it is, going down the highway and always looking out for the other person, always looking down the road. Just be in shape every day. It’s about safety every day,” Lockard said. “Take what you learn here. Go back to where you’re from and teach others the same thing. Get them all involved. Get as many people involved in this competition as possible, that way the more people we have the more safe drivers will be on the highway.”
Other Delaware winners headed for nationals include:
- Lindsay Nonnenmocher of FedEx Ground in Straight Truck
- Leroy Morgan of Walmart in 4-axle
- DeAndra Ballard of Mountaire Farms in 5-axle
- Robert Benton of Walmart in Sleeper Berth
- Joseph Peterson of UPS Freight in Tank Truck
- Phillip Wayne Goslee of Mountaire Farms in Flatbed
- William Tuell of FedEx Freight in Twins
- Wesley Reynolds of FedEx Ground in Step Van