Trucking’s Super Bowl: The National Trucking Driving Championships

You might think the sports scene in America at this time is in its seasonal rut. Basketball wrapped up a couple months ago, baseball playoffs aren’t until October, and football just began its preseason featuring third-string stars.

However, you may be wrong to think that. The 2022 American Trucking Association (ATA) National Truck Driving Championships is set to kick off August 16 through 19 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The annual event brings together professional truckers from all over the country to compete in a gauntlet of tests. The ATA itself calls it the Super Bowl of trucking.

Worthy drivers each have a chance to demonstrate their trucking prowess. Whether through driving ability, inspection skills, knowledge, and overall professionalism, a diverse skillset is required. In other words, the competition showcases la crème de la crème of professional truck drivers in the U.S.

National Truck Driving Championships

The ATA’s National Trucking Driving Championships (NTDC) is a spectacle steeped in tradition. The competition dates all the way back to 1937, when it was formally known as the National Truck Rodeo. The upcoming 2022 NTDC marks the 85th anniversary and a return to the action after a two-year hiatus.

This year’s NTDC has a certain enthusiasm to it as the event, up until the pandemic, had gone uninterrupted each year since World War II. Competitors, organizers, and attendees alike are eager to resume the age-old tradition.

The ATA’s program goal for the NTDC is to incentivize professional truck drivers to operate safely as all hopefuls must be accident-free for at least one year prior to the competition. The association boasts many of its competitors have “millions of miles” logged without any accidents.

How Drivers are Chosen

To initially qualify, a driver must compete in the state their commercial drivers license (CDL) was issued in (or the state their company has corporate domicile). Each year, the pool of drivers invited to the national stage is comprised of the winners in classes from state-level competitions held earlier in the year.

These classes are each different equipment categories. The following are the categories:

  • Straight Truck
  • Three-Axle Tractor-Semitrailer
  • Four-Axle Tractor Semitrailer
  • Five-Axle Tractor-Semitrailer (Tank)
  • Five-Axle Tractor-Semitrailer (Van)
  • Five-Axle Tractor-Semitrailer (Flatbed)
  • Five-Axle Tractor (Sleeper Cab) -Semitrailer (Van)
  • Twin Trailers
  • Step Van

As stated before, a minimum requirement of an accident-free record (regardless of fault) is required for a driver to be eligible for at least one year prior to the NTDC. In addition, drivers must also stay employed by a motor carrier fleet for a whole year for consideration.

How Drivers are Evaluated

Organizers told Transport Topics, this year’s NTDC is expected to feature 408 competitors across several classes. To win a respective class, a driver must accumulate top scores in three disciplines:

  • An evaluation of industry guidelines from the 2022 Facts for Drivers rulebook
  • A pre-trip vehicle inspection of their specific rig
  • Maneuvering their specific truck on a closed safety course

While strong performances across these disciplines heavily influence a driver’s score, evaluators also judge a driver’s ability to maintain their focus all throughout the competition.

The NTDC’s overall top scorer dons the blue-ribbon title of national grand champion.

While basketball has Michael Jordan, the NTDC has Scott Woodrome of FedEx Freight in Ohio. Woodrome captured back-to-back grand champion crowns in 2018 and 2019. The legend returns to the competition to defend his throne and add to what is already an impressive legacy in trucking.

Final Thoughts

While the ATA calls it the Super Bowl for trucking, the association has also dubbed it the Super Bowl for safety as well. Aspiring drivers who look to compete in the NTDC must have clean driving records and stable employment to show for. While the event adds a competitive spin that drivers can revel in the camaraderie and excitement of, the NTDC is also a bastion for safe operations in trucking.

Contact one of our team members if you have any questions regarding this topic or any others in domestic logistics.

The NTDC will begin August 16 through 19 in Indianapolis, IN. For more information, check out the event website.

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