Hermida Anticipates Training, Focus Will Blossom at NTDC
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COLUMBUS, Ohio — A surprising new sentiment stirs for FedEx Freight’s Luis Hermida: anticipation. This year’s “Super Bowl of Safety” is finally here, and Hermida, competing in the twins class, is determined to display his talents.
COMPLETE NTDC COVERAGE: Qualifiers, stories, photos.
After all, the grand champion from New Mexico’s trucking contest is among 420 competitors from around the country fortunate enough to have qualified for the 2023 National Truck Driving Championships and National Step Van Driving Championships. The event kicked off Aug. 16 and wraps up Aug. 19 with an awards gala.
For Hermida, this week will mark his third trip to the event, which is in its 86th year. His journey to nationals entailed plenty of preparation. “The key to success for me is the training,” he said recently.
After earning the blue ribbon trophy on May 20 at the Land of Enchantment’s qualifier, his practice arena has been his workspace. This brand of training is primarily the everyday grind: “My training is out here on the road. … I don’t practice on a course. My practice is out here.”
“That’s the way I do it, because, you know, it’s just what we do every day,” he emphasized.
Getting to Know You
Name: Luis A. “Louie” Hermida Jr.
From: Las Cruces, N.M.
Company: FedEx Freight
Favorite food: “I always like a good hamburger.”
Last movie you watched: “Backtrace”
Sports hero: NASCAR superstar Denny Hamlin
What do you say to yourself before driving at NTDC: “Shut that seat belt on and you go to work.”
All-time favorite vacation: Rome, and Wiesbaden, Germany
Something people don’t know about you: “I was born in California.”
Special shout-out: FedEx Ground’s Gary Martin
The road has demanded he become a careful observer of the craft of precision driving. Hermida admits he learns by watching. Or, as he put it, “I’m standing back and I’m looking at mostly what’s going on.”
There also have been lessons learned from his trips to the annual summer classic. Adapting to the national tournament’s rhythm is critical to advance to the final round.
“I mean, it’s what it takes, and, you know, for people that go there constantly, they pick up on how the pre-trips [vehicle inspections] are done; what the [driving] courses look like. So, you know, every year I go, it’s something different. I can see that — see what it takes to win,” Hermida explained. “You really got to be on your [‘A’ game].”
NTDC consists of a written exam of industry regulations, a pre-trip vehicle inspection, and a precision drive through an intricate obstacle course.
NTDC offers a forum akin to a family reunion for Hermida, as well as most of his colleagues and peers.
Qualifiers in the nine vehicle classes, who earned their spots by winning at the state level, tend to reconnect at nationals. The event has become an annual rite for celebrating safety and forming friendships.
“You see a lot of people you ain’t seen in a long time,” Hermida affirmed, adding, “And that’s the family reunion.”
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