Arkansas Trucking Association

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The Last Word

Catching the Spirit

By Butch Rice Guest Writer

When I woke up Saturday morning, June 13 in Rogers, Ark., I didn’t know what to expect. For the first time, I was at the John Q. Hammons Center for the Arkansas Truck Driving Championship. Some six hundred in attendance, including drivers, volunteers and supporters from all over the state showed up for an exciting weekend of competition.

As I walked around that morning, I felt like I was at a Razorback football game. Decorated tents lined the perimeter of the course where fans from each company’s driving team had set up banners, signs, pom-poms and all the evidence of team spirit. The drivers were dressed in their company colors, while anticipation ran through them as they walked the course for the first and last time before they competed.

The volunteer judges had taken their places throughout the course and were going over final instructions. The company tents began filling up with driver wives, employees and kids.

The ATA staff had set up a tent much like a control center and ran the operations from there. Then, the crowd stilled when the National Anthem played and a truck sporting American flags on each side was driven by last year’s champion. The patriotism and pride in the moment sent goose bumps up my arms.  

Cheers started from the tents when the first truck was introduced to the crowd. All day, as each competitor demonstrated the 3-point entry into the cabs and maneuvered the trucks through a course with simulated train tracks and roadkill, the cheers kept coming. Even when the sky darkened and the rain started, the drivers had fans watching, whistling, whooping for their work that might go unappreciated any other day.

And yet the anticipation and overwhelming support felt all day paled in comparison to the awards ceremony. When I entered the ball room that evening, I was taken back by all of the tables dressed in white cloths, finished with centerpieces. The stage was as spectacular as the Academy Awards. Once the doors were opened and the drivers and their families were arriving, I looked around and realized just how important this evening was to them. This was their night, all dressed for the occasion, smiles on every face. We all knew a winner—a grand champion—was in that room.

There was a spirit of competition evident that night, but more importantly, there was a spirit of love and pride for the profession of trucking. The salads were eaten, the volunteers were thanked, and then the names were called. Names of winners. And champions. And truly professional truck drivers.

This weekend was very special to me as I saw everyone supporting each other. As I walked around that Saturday, the smiles, the joy and just good old down home sitting on the porch conversation taking place is why I can say I am a trucker and be proud of it! None of this could have happened without our sponsors and all of the wonderful volunteers. Once again, the ATA Staff did a phenomenal job making this our premier event of the year.

All 600 people in that room had the spirit that makes me proud of this industry. As chairman of the Board of Directors of the Arkansas Trucking Association, I want to foster that spirit in our membership. I want to see more companies celebrating the men and women who do the hard job and do it professionally and safely. This year, when I see you in a meeting, at a conference, or aisle 7 of the grocery store, I’ll still be talking about my experience at the trucking championship, but next year, I want you there cheering with me.

Butch Rice, is the President/ CEO of Stallion Transportation Group. He is also the current chair of the Arkansas Trucking Association Board of Directors.

Contact Us

Arkansas Trucking Association
PO Box 3476 (72203)
1401 West Capitol Ave.
Little Rock, AR 72201

(501) 372-3462 | Phone
(501) 376-1810 | Fax

Our Mission

  • PROTECT the collective interests of trucking companies in the political and regulatory arenas.
  • PROMOTE the dynamics of trucking so that people have a better understanding of the link between America's primary freight delivery system and the standard of living they enjoy.
  • SERVE our members to help them to grow their business and their profits
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