Local driver making 10th appearance in National Truck Driving Championships

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POSTED: Friday, May 16, 2014 - 5:00am

UPDATED: Friday, May 16, 2014 - 5:04am

The capital area is known for having some of the worst drivers in the country. But it is also home to one of the best.

Leroy Williams won the Louisiana Truck Driving Championships, earning a berth in the National Truck Driving Championships this summer. He won the overall title, as well as the straight truck division.

"Something I don't drive," he noted. "I drive it once a year."

Williams started competing in the straight truck division on a lark.

"When I first did this years ago, didn't nobody want to get in it, so I just said, well, I'll take that one," he recalled. "You know, and I've been in it ever since. And I've been doing pretty good."

More than a hundred drivers took part in the state competition in nine different divisions.

"When I first started, I was real, real nervous," Williams stated. "I really never did anything. But I kept going at it, you know, until I talked to some of the older guys who had been doing it for years, and got some tips and experience from them. And once I won my first time, it was just, I was just off and running." 

Now he heads back to nationals, where he has recorded 2nd and 3rd place finishes.

"It's real, real, real intense," Williams explained. "You got... my first year I went there, guys walking around with 3,000,000 mile patches all on their shirts. You know, older guys. I was nervous. But I did pretty good."

The competition consists of three sections. First, there is a written exam.

"Well, general knowledge of the trucking industry," Williams said of the questions on the exam. "You got first aid, fire safety, you got health and wellness, you got all that on there." 

There is also a pre-trip inspection in which the driver has six many to identify all the things that were set up to be improper.

"They may loosen some lugs," Williams mentioned. "They may take a windshield wiper blade off, something with your pre-trip inspection book, they have something on it. It may have a little oil leak, simulated oil leak on your tire."

The third part of the competition is an obstacle course, in which the driver must perform different types of stopping, turning, and parking maneuvers.

Williams said he has driven 1.6 million miles during his career, which has been mainly spent driving for Con-Way. Drivers around Baton Rouge could learn a thing or two from him.

"You just gotta keep your head on," he mentioned, "look out your mirrors at all times, you know? And just watch out in front of you, side of you, and rear of you. And just keep your following distance; everything will be fine."

He believes this will be the year his finally wins a national title, but that is not his focus.

"I'm going, first of all, have fun, represent Con-Way, and represent team Baton Rouge," he claimed. "And just have fun."

The National Truck Driving Championships is in Pittsburgh this year, August 12-16. It was also held in Pittsburgh in 2009, and that was the year that Williams placed 2nd.

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