Scott Osborne believes in the power of mentoring. Not only has he been taught by the best, he is doing all he can to pass that knowledge on to the next generation.
During Osborne’s 26-year driving career, he has competed in the Mississippi Truck Driving Championships only in the past four years. In the course of those years, he has become a two-time Grand Champion and three time national qualifier.
A soft-spoken man who came from humble beginnings as the son of a truck driver from Kentucky, Osborne has capitalized on his abilities behind the wheel. His latest win in the state event, on April 27, earned him a third trip to the National Truck Driving Championships.
Coming onto the scene rather quickly, his keen sense of safety and ease of movement shouldn’t come as a surprise. Osborne has learned from competition great Randy Byrd, was born into a trucking family and has a manager who believes in him.
Randy Byrd with his 2017 Mississippi State Grand Champion Trophy. (Mississippi Trucking Association)
“It was my boss, Scottie Stubbs, and he is not your typical boss,” Osborne said. Stubbs, a retired Marine Corps veteran, is the Jackson terminal manager for FedEx Freight. One day about four years ago, Stubbs called Osborne into his office and asked for his help filling out some paperwork.
By the time Osborne got to the bottom of the form and was seeing questions about his safe-driving record, he finally asked, “What am I filling out?”
Stubbs replied, “You’re filling out the Mississippi State TDC form.”
“My thought was, why me?” Osborne said.
Turns out he knew Osborne better than he thought. “You realize how to adapt and overcome,” Stubbs said. Those words of praise were the same words Osborne’s father said to him when teaching him how to drive.
“The team we have in Jackson is more of a family, a brotherhood,” Osborne said.
With Stubbs’ encouragement the easy part was done — applying — but training and preparing to compete were a completely different story.
Mentor Byrd (left) took first in Twins at Mississippi's 2018 Truck Driving Championship, and Osborne (right) clinched the Grand Champion title. (Scott Osborne)
That is where competition veterans stepped in.
“I have always considered Randy Byrd a mentor to me,” he said. “We push one another on a daily basis.”
Byrd is stationed out of the Jackson terminal with Osborne and has competed at nationals seven times.
And if it’s not his local teammates pushing him, Osborne can rely on Chris Outen out of Oregon or Don Logan in Kansas to offer encouragement and push him to be a safer driver and better competitor.
At Osborne’s first year at nationals he was told, “Treat this year like a sponge, soak it all in,” and that is exactly what he did.
A guy from middle-of-nowhere Kentucky was rubbing shoulders with drivers from all over the country. “I was in awe,” he said.
Now that Osborne knows the ropes for nationals, he has the task of taking first-timer Jackie Reed under his wing and helping him prepare.
Jackie Reed with his award for 3-Axle first place. (Mississippi Trucking Association)
“I told Jackie the same thing Randy told me my first time going to nationals, ‘Act like a sponge, soak everything in.’ That way, you can pay it forward,” Osborne said.
His mentor gig goes beyond the competition sphere. Most recently, under the encouragement of Stubbs, he has taken on the role of a road coach. Osborne rides with new drivers, helping them get comfortable on routes and behind the wheel.
On May 6, he had his first go at being a road coach, sitting next to a 23-year-old man. “That was the first time I have had someone with that little experience drive me anywhere,” he said.
No worries, he made it out alive. Not only that, he gained a new understanding of the next generation of driver.
“He has high hopes at such a young age … just watching him is invigorating to an older guy that has been doing it for 26 years,” Osborne said. He will be a future competitor, if Osborne has anything to say about it. “I learned a lot in the past two nights, just from a 23-year-old.”
There still is much work to be done for the young man getting started with his career. This echoes the work that Osborne has coming in the next couple of months to prepare for nationals in Pittsburgh Aug. 14-17.
Not one to brag about his successes, Osborne is hoping to do “just a little better” in the event. “I was 16th last year, so my goal this year is to just get my name called on Saturday morning,” Osborne said. “I’m not asking for first or second, I just want my family to hear my name called on Saturday morning for the runoffs.”