Move over Jerry Lucas and Kayla Harrison. There’s another champion in town.
Middletown’s Scott Woodrome, a FedEx freight driver, bested more than 400 elite drivers from across the nation to win the Bendix Grand Champion Honors on Aug. 18 at the 81st National Truck Driving Championships in Columbus.
To even qualify, drivers must be accident free for a year and win their class at their State Truck Driving Competition.
Because the competition is called the “Super Bowl of Safety” in the trucking industry, Woodrome must be considered the Joe Montana behind the wheel. He takes safety seriously. Consider, in his 24 years of driving professionally — the last 13 with FedEx, based out of Huber Heights — Woodrome has driven more than 1.8 million accident free miles.
He should be the spokesman for Allstate Insurance.
“These guys are serious about their profession,” he said of his fellow competitors.
This was Woodrome’s 12th straight appearance at the NTDC competition. He secured his spot by winning the Tank Truck class in the Ohio State Truck Driving Championship in May. His first appearance in the Ohio State Truck Driving Competition was in 2006 and he was named Rookie of the Year. Since then, even while competing in a total of six different driving classes throughout the years, he has not lost at the state level.
“Safety is above all,” he said. “It’s a way of life.”
He said the championships encompass three parts: a challenging driving course; a timed pre-trip inspection; and a written examination that covers vehicle operation and knowledge of federal safety regulations.
“Quite challenging,” he said of the written portion.
He called the pre-trip inspection “the most difficult” because drivers must locate hidden defects. For instance, he said, every driver had to twist 100 lug nuts to assure their tightness. The drivers have nine minutes to complete the inspection and get in their cab.
As a pick up and delivery driver, Woodrome, 55, covers the Dayton metropolitan area and his territory extends to Sidney, Greenville, Springfield and Franklin. When he’s driving, Woodrome said he’s constantly trying to predict the move of every motorist, consider the best and safest maneuver for his vehicle and “plug safety into that equation.”
Then he added: “When safety is achieved everyone wins.”
The championships, he said, have two goals: Hone the skills of the drivers and improve the image of the professional truck driver.
“When I came into the industry I said from the beginning, ‘I want to be an example of the professionalism and when people say, ‘How can you change something?’ You just do it,” he said.
They also fulfill some of the competitive spirit inside Woodrome. The 1982 Madison High School graduate played football and continued his career at Wilmington College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business management.
But Woodrome is more than a truck driver who likes sports. He’s also very spiritual and he’s not afraid to share his beliefs.
“You look around and everyone is uniquely made,” he said, noting even twins have different finger prints. “We really need to give the credit from where it comes from. He breathes life into every person.”
Woodrome also credited Lorraine, his wife of 29 years, for her continued support throughout his driving career. Every morning, she wakes up and packs her husband lunch.
“That’s special,” he said. “It’s neat to have that type of support.”
And she understands even though he’s scheduled to get off at 5 p.m., he may not be back in Middletown until 8 p.m., depending on the work load.
“It’s a sacrifice,” he said of being married to a truck driver.
There’s a price to pay for being a champion. Usually that extends beyond the athlete.