Osborne courtesy of Mississippi Trucking Association
Two years ago, Scott Osborne essentially had to be tricked into entering his first state truck driving championship. Now, he’s a Grand Champion and headed to nationals for the second straight year.
The FedEx Freight driver will be trekking to Columbus, Ohio, for the 2018 ATA National Truck Driving Championships and Step Van Driving Championships after winning Mississippi’s tanker truck classification April 27-28 in Gulfport for the second year in a row and Grand Champion honors for the first time.
Back in 2016, Osborne’s manager at FedEx asked him to fill out a form. About halfway through it, Osborne asked what he was filling out. His manager said it was a form to compete at states because he knew Osborne’s commitment to safety and overall demeanor would be traits rewarded at the annual competition.
His manager’s intuition proved prophetic. Osborne’s second trip to nationals comes after four years with Big Purple and more than two dozen years as a professional driver, during which he has racked up two million safety miles.
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
As he prepares for his second shot at an award at nationals, Osborne is banking on two factors to enhance his chances of winning. One is his competitive spirit.
“I used to play a lot of ball, you know, football,” Osborne told Transport Topics on May 14. “I’m very competitive.”
He said his drive to win motivates him to train long hours on weekends for whatever challenges he might face along the driving course at nationals. The essence of his training is perfecting muscle memory behind the wheel as well as evaluating successful techniques for the pre-trip inspection portion and studying for the written exam as if it were the SATs.
“I was very nervous last year. I didn’t know what to expect. And I was [in] awe at everything. This year, I’m a little more confident on what I need to do and how I need to do it,” he explained.
The second factor involves a little bit of superstition.
Mississippi in Pictures
Osborne said at nationals, Aug. 15-18, he will wear a ring that he wore en route to his state Grand Champion award. It’s the safety ring his late father, Ted Osborne, earned for his three decades as a driver for Consolidated Freightways. Ted Osborne passed away in January.
“I’ll wear it in the national competition also, just so I have a piece of him with me,” Osborne said.
Osborne’s mother, Deborah Carter, will drive from her home in Kentucky to Ohio to watch her son make the family proud. She has made the trip to Mississippi to cheer on her son at the state tournament.
Also earning trips to nationals from Mississippi were several of Osborne’s FedEx Freight teammates — 3-axle class winner Terry Holcomb, twin trailers division winner Randy Byrd and sleeper berth class winner John Kitchens.
Other Mississippi winners were Christopher Gaston with FedEx Express in the 5-axle class, Darres Stokes of Walmart in the 4-axle class, Stevie Armstrong of YRC Freight in straight truck and Todd Wilemon of ABF Freight in flatbed. Don Smith of FedEx Ground placed first in the step van division. Walmart took home the team trophy.