Special Coverage of the National Truck Driving Championships

Nevada Event Kicks Off NTDC Champ Wilson’s Goal to Repeat

Tank Truck Competitor for UPS Concentrates on Not Overthinking
Gragg Wilson
Gragg Wilson addresses the crowd after winning the Bendix Grand Champion trophy at NTDC in 2023. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

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Gragg Wilson, the reigning “Super Bowl of Safety” grand champion, called Nevada’s upcoming precision driving tournament an ideal venue for kicking off this year’s road to his title defense.

STATE-BY-STATE SCHEDULE: Dates and locations for 2024

The Silver State qualifier, scheduled for April 6, will mark Wilson’s first official step toward his goal of repeating as grand champion at this summer’s National Truck Driving Championships. Competing again in tanker truck, Wilson will need to secure a first place in his vehicle class to return to the summer classic.

The state tournament, always a haven for camaraderie, also is an opportunity for commercial drivers to prepare for what often becomes a grueling training schedule ahead of the national tournament. After multiple visits to August’s “Super Bowl of Safety,” Wilson finally advanced to the event’s final round last year en route to earning blue ribbon honors.

More recognition soon followed. In January, the Reno, Nev.-based UPS driver was named a captain with American Trucking Associations’ Road Team.

During a wide-ranging interview with Transport Topics, Wilson expounded on his training methodology, mental preparation and the virtues of life as NTDC’s reigning grand champion.

NTDC 2024

2024 National Truck Driving Championships

Who: Winners from nine categories at the state level who have advanced to the national competition, where a Grand Champion will be crowned

What: Contestants are judged on a written exam, pre-trip inspection and driving skills

When: Aug. 21-24

Where: Indianapolis

“I do a lot of road training when I drive every week with the normal job. And as far as getting as much practice in this year, unfortunately, I’m not going to get a lot in” prior to the state tournament. Wilson went on, “I’m doing a lot of, going over my head with pre-trips [vehicle inspections] and stuff like that.”

On defending his title in the tanker truck division, he explained: “I’m feeling pretty good right now. I feel like I’ve done it enough times where I got a feeling I know what they’re going to throw at me and stuff.”

“Again, like the finals were at nationals. That’s kind of how our state is. You don’t really get to do a lot of practicing or thinking about — overthinking what you’re going to do — you just see the course, and you get out there and do it right then. So that’s something I’ve always liked about our state. And, that’s always something I thought would be appealing if I ever got to the finals at nationals. And the first time I got there [last year] it worked out pretty well.”

2023 NTDC IN REVIEW: Stories, photo gallery, results

Regarding life as NTDC’s current grand champion, he observed: “I’ve been enjoying being recognized as a national champion: A lot of accolades and lots of people, you know. I still get messages all the time. You know, people call me champ and all that stuff. I’m still not completely used to it, but it’s pretty cool. And I’d like to get there again. I’m going to do the best that I can, and we’re going to see what happens.”

Specific to his captain status on America’s Road Team, Wilson added that it was “very humbling because there are a lot of drivers out there that applied. And you think you got something special. And every single driver there has something special as well that just blows your socks off.”

He emphasized, “I’m just humbled to be in that environment with all those really, really good drivers.”

The 87th annual National Truck Driving Championships and National Step Van Driving Championships will be held in Indianapolis Aug. 21-24.

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