28 years of driving pays off in national truckers title

Jeffrey Langenhahn, a Con-way Freight driver based in Plover, Wisc., Sunday was named the 2014 Bendix Grand Champion at the 77th annual National Truck Driving Championships held in Pittsburgh. This was the fourth trip to the national finals for Langenhahn, who has spent 28 years and over 1.9 million miles behind the wheel. He also won the individual tank truck driving competition.

Langenhahn and 426 other drivers passed written and driving tests in what the competition’s organizer, the American Trucking Associations, calls the “Super Bowl of Safety.” The skills course tested drivers’ ability to judge distances, maneuver tight spaces, reverse, park, and position their vehicle exactly over scales, before barriers or around curves.

David Guinn, a driver for Publix Super Markets Inc. from Mulberry, Fla. was named 2014 Rookie of the Year and the North Carolina team won honors as the highest scoring state.

The contestants were the state champions in nine truck types from all 50 states. Collectively, they have driven 653,677,080 accident-free miles.

Winners in their respective classes included:

  • Straight Truck: Brendan Sharp, FedEx Freight (Henderson, Colo.)
  • Three-Axle: Basher Pierce, FedEx Freight (Sophia, N.C.)
  • Four-Axle: James Quarles, Walmart Transportation LLC (Laurens, S.C.)
  • Five-Axle: Wayne Gootee, Walmart Transportation (Brooklyn, Mich.)
  • Sleeper Berth Class: Matt Awbrey, Walmart Transportation (Franklin, Ga.)
  • Twins: Langenhahn, Con-way Freight (Plover, Wisc.)
  • Flatbed Class:  Paul Brandon, FedEx Freight (Oxford, Conn.)
  • Tank Truck Class: Christopher Miller, United Petroleum Transportation (Cowetta, Okla.)
  • Step Van: Christopher Shaw, FedEx Express (Albuquerque, N.M.)

Other winners included:

  • Vehicle Condition Award:  Jeffrey Payne, Reddaway
  • Neill Darmstadter Professional Excellence Award:  Jeffrey Payne, Reddaway
  • Lifetime Volunteer Award:  Sam Gillette

National Champions by class included:

 Straight Truck Class

  • First Place: Brendan Sharp, FedEx Freight (Henderson, Colo.)
  • Second Place: Rene Molinary, FedEx Express (Coral Springs, Fla.)
  • Third Place: Guy Frederickson, FedEx Ground (Kaukauna, Wisc.)

3-Axle Class

  • First Place: Basher Pierce, FedEx Freight, (Sophia, N.C.)
  • Second Place: Edward Pennington, FedEx Freight (Jacksonville, Fla.)
  • Third Place: Joseph Hicks, Con-way Freight (Johnston, R.I.)

4-Axle Class

  • First Place: James Quarles, Walmart Transportation LLC (Laurens, S.C.)
  • Second Place: Roy Garcia, Peninsula Truck Lines, Inc. (Otis Orchards, Wash.)
  • Third Place: Edward Carlson, FedEx Freight (Portland, Ore.)

5-Axle Class

  • First Place: Wayne Gootee, Walmart Transportation (Brooklyn, Mich.)
  • Second Place: William Hill, Old Dominion Freight Line (Marsing, Idaho)
  • Third Place: Richard Hill, Walmart Transportation (Conway, N.H.)

Flatbed Class

  • First Place:  Paul Brandon, FedEx Freight (Oxford, Conn.)
  • Second Place: Brian Walker, UPS Freight (Randleman, N.C.)
  • Third Place: Randall Stromlund, UPS Freight (Sparks, Nev.)

Tank Truck Class

  • First Place: Christopher Miller, United Petroleum Transports (Cowetta, Okla.)
  • Second Place: Gary Nickell, The Boeing Company (Fox Island, Wash.)
  • Third Place: James Kroschel, US Foods (Maplewood, Minn.)

Twins Class

  • First Place: Langenhahn, Con-way Freight (Plover, Wisc.)
  • Second Place: David Martinez, H-E-B (Natalia, Texas)
  • Third Place: Jeffrey Payne, Reddaway (Cedar City, Utah)

Sleeper Berth Class

  • First Place: Matt Awbrey, Walmart Transportation LLC (Franklin, Ga.)
  • Second Place: Ralph Garcia, ABF Freight System Inc. (Albuquerque, N.M.)
  • Third Place: Steve Elliston, Walmart Transportation, LLC (Sparta, Mich.)

Step Van

  • First Place: Christopher Shaw, FedEx Express (Albuquerque, N.M.)
  • Second Place: Thomas Reinold, FedEx Express (Sutton, Mass.)
  • Third Place: Nick Frazier, FedEx Ground (Granby, Mo.)