Big-Rig Driver Earns Even Bigger Award

AT THE WHEEL — Braden Howie of Invermere with his winning 2001 Western Star logging truck.

While many of us struggle some days to parallel park a subcompact car on paved streets, an Invermere man must negotiate up to 50 tonnes of logs off-road. Ice, rain, and snow, are sometimes his only companions while driving tight backcountry roads in a logging truck that has proven it can still look good when it hits the pavement.

Braden Howie, 29, is a professional driver and the recipient of Pro-Trucker Magazine’s Big-Rig Weekend specialty class second-place trophy.

He received the award for the complete restoration of his prized 2001 Western Star logging truck in Red Deer, Aberta, August 18th.

The specialty class that Braden competed in was made up of rigs set up to go a notch above the average truck, including oilfield vehicles and specialty dump trucks. Cleaning and restoring his rig to compete against the shiniest chrome that the industry has to offer was a long task.

“I worked two months non-stop on it sandblasting,” he said “I went right through the whole truck and painted the top half and fenders and added all new chrome. I also added a whole whack of new lights.”

The Invermere driver estimates that he spent close to 300 hours to fully restore his vehicle. Among his additions were LED lights to the roof, a large polished aluminum drop visor for the cab and a custom grill.

“There’s a lot of work and time that I put into that truck, but the whole thing came out exactly how I pictured it,” he added.

Braden was the only contestant from B.C. His main competitor was a Peterbilt dump truck pulling a freshly-polished quad axle dump box, which took first place.

The Invermere trucker began driving when he was 19 after his girlfriend’s dad,
Harry Ferguson, owner of H & D Contracting, trained him how to drive and set him up with a job.

Since then, through the help of his mother, Camille, and father-in-law, Rick Fiddis, he estimates that he has already driven 1,400,000 kilometres during his 10-year career.

“I really enjoy being able to get up and do this job and have a nice clean shiny truck that is working all the time,” he said. “This is a part of me that will never go away.”