SEPTEMBER 15, 2017 — When Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida on Sunday, September 10, it was unknown whether the IFDA Truck Driving Championship in Orlando would happen a few days later. The championship came close to being called off. The problem wasn’t the hotel, but having tractors, trailers, and straight trucks to hold the driving competition. In the end, Penske, Great Dane, and Kidron — the companies that supply the equipment — all came through. The only loose end was getting three identical 48-foot trailers to the course, and members of the distributor planning committee with CDLs hit the road Thursday to bring the trailers up from Tampa.
On Saturday as the sun rose over the Epcot parking lot where the competition is held, drivers and spectators arrived on buses. An eagle perched for a few minutes on a cell tower next to the lot. The Canadian and US national anthems were played, and the competition began.
ABOVE: The opening ceremony included the Canadian and U.S. National Anthems, followed by cheers for the drivers as the competition began. Directly above, a driver in the 28-foot tractor-trailer category navigates the third and fourth problems in the field course, which was made up of two 90-degree right turns. To score, the rear axle tire had to be within 18 inches of the cone. The closer to the cone without touching it, the higher the score. GALLERY OF PHOTOS
The competition consists of three parts. On Friday evening, drivers took a written exam that included 40 questions ranging from road laws to vehicle safety. On Saturday, they performed a pre-trip inspection and navigated through a challenging field course. During the pre-trip, each driver inspected a vehicle in their class of competition to find ten planted defects that could affect driving safety. This type of inspection is an exercise they do each working day before they take their vehicle out on deliveries. During the field course, drivers navigated six challenges that simulated situations they face on the road.
“The IFDA Truck Driving Championship reinforces those aspects of safety that professional drivers do each and every day to keep America’s roads safe,” said Mark S. Allen, president and CEO of the International Foodservice Distributors Association. “This competition brings together the best drivers in the food distribution industry to test their skills and knowledge. There is an amazing amount of comradery at the event.”
The competition concluded with an awards banquet on Sunday evening to recognize top finishers in each category, as well as the top performing team of drivers and the highest score of a driver competing in the championship for the first time.
During the Pre-Trip Inspection, each driver works to find planted defects that could affect safety. On the job, drivers inspect their vehicle in a similar manner before taking their vehicle out on the road.
Spectators, including family and management, cheer on their drivers. Above, a group from Reinhart Foodservice watch as one of the company’s drivers makes his run on the field course.
The 2017 winners include (left to right rear) Gary Noyes of Shamrock Foods Company, Adam Caughey of Reinhart Foodservice, Glenn Anderson of Eby-Brown Company, Matt Baker of Team Sledd, and Larry Wilson of Delhaize America Transportation. (Left to right front) Danny Duke of Shamrock Foods, Anthony Garcia of Shamrock Foods, Joaquin Cuadras of McLane Foodservice Distribution, and Andrew Spindler of Eby-Brown Company.
The 2017 Championship Winners
1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place awards were presented for the three different truck classes in the competition. The winners include:
1st Place: Anthony Garcia, Shamrock Foods Company, Phoenix, AZ
2nd Place: Glenn Anderson, Eby-Brown Company, Montgomery, IL
3rd Place: Matt Baker, Team Sledd, Wheeling, WV
3-Axle (28-foot Tractor/Trailer)
1st Place: Gary Noyes, Shamrock Foods Company, Albuquerque, NM
2nd Place: Danny Duke, Shamrock Foods Company, Commerce City, CO
3rd Place: Larry Wilson, Delhaize America Transportation, Lexington, NC
5-Axle (48-foot Tractor/Trailer)
1st Place: Adam Caughey, Reinhart Foodservice, Marshall, MN
2nd Place: Joaquin Cuadras, McLane Foodservice Distribution, Riverside, CA
3rd Place: Andrew Spindler, Eby-Brown Company, Eau Claire, WI
Shamrock Foods Company drivers took away the 2017 Team Award with the highest average score for companies that had three or more drivers competing. Anthony Garcia, right, received the 2017 Rookie of the Year Award with the highest score of a first-time competitor.
In addition, a Team Award was presented to a company with three or more drivers in the competition. For the second year in a row, Shamrock Foods Company was awarded the Team Award with the highest average score amongst their drivers.
Of the 135 drivers at the 2017 Championship, 81 were competing for the first time in this national competition. A Rookie of the Year award was presented to Anthony Garcia of Shamrock Foods Company, Phoenix, AZ. Though a veteran driver, it was his first time competing in the IFDA Truck Driving Championship, and he had the distinction of having the highest overall score among first-time competitors. Garcia has been with the company for 17 years and was the only driver to score on every obstacle during the field course driving challenge, including getting the only perfect score on the Parallel Park challenge.