Special Coverage of the National Truck Driving Championships

Oregon Champ Shamrell Excited to Make Familiar Trek

3-Axle Ace Bound for 18th NTDC Appearance After 10th State Grand Championship
Dan Shamrell of FedEx Freight
FedEx Freight 3-axle driver Dan Shamrell of Oregon enjoyed a light moment in the drivers' "bullpen" at NTDC 2023 in Columbus, Ohio. (Judd Hanson/Transport Topics)

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You would not think, when it comes to Dan Shamrell, that there is still such capacity for surprise. But for Oregon’s most recent grand champion, winning precision-driving tournaments never gets old.

After winning his 10th — yes, 10 — overall state title at Oregon’s championship April 27, FedEx Freight 3-axle champ Shamrell is preparing to compete in his 18th National Truck Driving Championships.

Shamrell, a fixture in Beaver State trucking, displays vibrancy, intelligence and discipline during competition. Yet, his attributes tend to be eclipsed outside of driving tournaments by a preternatural sense of humility.

The decorated trucker with FedEx Freight finds comfort conversing about his passion for gardening or enthusiasm for island hopping. He just is never one to brag although his career résumé screams superstar status. At NTDC, his record is the stuff of legends: Vehicle Condition Award winner in 1997 and 2006; 3-axle national title in 2006; Neill Darmstadter Professional Excellence Award in 2017.

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

Shamrell explained it has been a journey to amass such an array of accolades.

WEEK-BY-WEEK TDC SCHEDULE: Dates and locations for 2024

“It took me about two years to realize I needed to score well on everything. And in 1994, that’s when I got my first state title. And from then on, it’s like, ‘OK, I really put the extra effort into it because I understood, and I knew what nationals was all about.’ Before that, I didn’t know what nationals was all about,” he told Transport Topics recently, regarding a strategy of accruing significant points at NTDC’s elements consisting of a written exam, a pre-trip vehicle inspection and maneuvering through an intricate course. “Now, you really have to be good at all three things if you want to have a chance of being in the top,” he emphasized.

The national “Super Bowl of Safety” is more than a competition. For Shamrell, the venue is a learning forum to share best-practices with fellow competitors he calls friends.

“For me [it’s] the learning process. I mean, I learn more about safety every year. You never get enough or you never get it all. There’s always more safety. And the people that are at nationals are some of the safest people in the industry.

“What better place to learn and to better yourselves, and I’m just driven to get back and see some of these great people from all different companies and drivers and volunteers and everybody that makes the NTDC happen.”

Given that the national precision-driving tournament is a team event, Shamrell expressed gratitude for his peers from Oregon and his colleagues from FedEx. When the team wins, he finds joy in that.

Getting to Know You

Dan Shamrell of FedEx Freight

Name: Dan Shamrell

Age: 59

From: Battle Ground, Wash.

Vehicle: 3-Axle

Favorite color: Blue

When visiting Oregon: Head to Crater Lake National Park

Favorite flower: Zinnia

Favorite jam? “Free Fallin’ ” by Tom Petty

Last Place visited: Caribbean

Favorite quote: “It’s a good day to have a good day.”

2024 NTDC VOLUNTEERS: Want to help?

2023 NTDC IN REVIEWStories, photo galleries, results

“Being able to meet so many wonderful people and everybody’s got the attitude of safety and, isn’t that what the truck driving championships are all about? You know, building safer drivers and putting more safe drivers on the road to be leaders. And it’s so important to me to be able to be out there in public and have the attitude of, ‘I want to show everybody how safe I am,’ and I hope they take my lead and follow and be safe leaders themselves.”

Kathy, Shamrell’s wife of 40 years, has been by his side during all his appearances at the national stage. He considers her the event’s biggest fan.

“She has as many friends back there as I do,” he said. “When we see people, we greet people at nationals. I put out my arms, and they put out their arms and go directly to Kathy first.”

Other Oregon winners:

4-Axle: Kurt Kasitz, Old Dominion Freight Line

5-Axle: Kevin Broadhead, Albertsons

Flatbed: Heladio Fernandez, FedEx Freight

Sleeper Berth: Thomas Crawford, Walmart

Straight Truck: Gurinder Dhaliwal, FedEx Freight

Tank Truck: Ronald Zieser, FedEx Freight

Twins: Steve Huntington, Old Dominion Freight Line

Step Van: Travis Hutchinson, FedEx Ground

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