Special Coverage of the National Truck Driving Championships

Metternick Hones His Trucking Craft for the Fun of It

2016 National 4-Axle Champ Relishes Fifth Trip to NTDC
FedEx Freight driver Ronald Metternick
"I just want to have fun, and I want to cheer on my other drivers that are out there," FedEx Freight driver Ronald Metternick says of the camaraderie at truck driving events. (FedEx Corp.)

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Hardly anyone predicted Ronald Metternick’s national 4-axle title victory in 2016. And yet the FedEx Freight superstar known for exuding friendship and goodwill managed to arrive at the winner’s podium.

Metternick, this year’s champion in the 4-axle at the Michigan Truck Driving Championships, is positioning himself for what he expects will be an exhilarating and precious weeklong family reunion.

Winning his vehicle class in the Wolverine State on June 9 secured his fifth trip to American Trucking AssociationsNational Truck Driving Championships and National Step Van Driving Championships, to be held in Columbus, Ohio, on Aug. 16-19.

While the 86th annual “Super Bowl of Safety” this month is a competitive arena, for Metternick the forum offers an opportunity to catch up with colleagues, brush up on his skills and laugh with longtime friends. If he wins a national title again, he’ll take it.

NTDC 2023

The Road to the 2023 National Truck Driving Championships

State ScheduleNTDC Qualifiers | Map of State Champions | Photo Gallery

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. 16-19

Where: Columbus, Ohio

“I just go out and have fun. I just want to have fun, and I want to cheer on my other drivers that are out there — everybody to have a good time,” the professional driver of more than four decades told Transport Topics recently.

Metternick had more to say about the camaraderie that is so pervasive at trucking competitions.

“I’ve met people from all over the country, and I’m still good friends with a lot of [them]. The ones you know, I try to stay up with all of them that I can, he continued. “And we all kind of work together to help out the new drivers coming into this. And to pay it forward to them and giving them tips on the safety and how to do different things.”

Metternick’s favorite part of the tournament is the driving course. That motivates him to incorporate his training into his day-to-day routine.

Getting to Know You

Ronald Metternick


Name: Ronald Metternick

Age: 63

Company: FedEx Freight

Vehicle: 4-axle

Favorite Movie: “El Dorado” starring John Wayne

Sports Hero: Former Major League Baseball player Kirk Gibson

What’s the last song you heard: “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi

What’s the best part about NTDC: “Being there with all the champions and seeing how the crowd gets into it.”

Something people don’t know about you: “I competed in a belly flop contest in Mexico.”

All-time favorite vacation: Frankenmuth, Mich.

As he put it, “Trying to maneuver all these different challenges at these places because some of them are pretty tight. So you do the best you can; just take your time and be safe about it.”

His training philosophy is keep it fun. And he always makes time to enjoy a fun training outing.

“I pretty much figure I train every day because every time I get behind the wheel — every day is a different challenge it seems like,” he said. “And besides that, I’m training a little bit when I get back in the yard or in the mornings when I get there.”

And having a good time with it.

Other winners

Grand champion: Chad Williams, Old Dominion Freight Line

3-Axle: Rudy Gauna, Old Dominion Freight Line

5-Axle: Roger Lester, Independent

Flatbed: Mark Behr, ABF Freight

Sleeper Berth: Wayne Gootee, Walmart

Step Van: Eric Halchishak, Walmart

Straight Truck: Thomas Truskowski, FedEx Freight

Tank Truck: Daniel Ross, Independent

Twins: Chad Williams, Old Dominion Freight Line

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