ALICE SPRINGS, AUSTRALIA — Truck Driver Derek Martin sat behind the steering wheel of the right-hand-drive Kenworth, peered over his left shoulder to his co-driver and navigator Mike Thomas-Clark and stated the obvious. They were lost.
They weren’t just lost, lost. The pair — Martin from Hamilton, ON., Thomas-Clark from Scotland — were tens of thousands of miles from home with nothing more than a backpacker’s GPS to guide them. Worse, they were on the verge of watching a $150,000 prize go up in fumes.
The men were two of eight drivers vying for the right to call themselves the World’s Toughest Trucker.
It was Day Two of what would eventually be a total of 18 days (filmed over several weeks) of grueling competition in Australia, Mongolia, Squamish B.C., the jungles of Brazil, and two locations in India.
Day One had gone well for Martin and Thomas-Clark.
Right off the start, a little fuelling-up trick that Martin figured out gave them a huge head start, so they went into the second day with a 40-point lead.
Then on Day Two, they missed the turn. They knew they were losing serious ground to the other competitors. And that at least two of the drivers would be sent home and dropped from the competition.
They took a GPS reading, found their way back to the road, and a few hours later, Martin steered his rig, which was hauling a trailer load of cattle, over a rise, expecting to see nothing by Australian desert ahead.
But down the slope, they saw all three of their competitors, mired in mud up to the axles; stuck solid. It was a happy moment for Martin and Thomas-Clark. If they hadn’t made a wrong turn, they would have been the first truck into the mud but because they erred, they avoided the trap altogether and emerged, from the first round of the competition, in first place.
“It was so bad they had to walk an excavator 250 km in to get those trucks out,” Martin laughs now, months later.
The World’s Toughest Trucker, a Discovery Channel spectacle, debuts in Canada on April 16th at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. And it runs for eight episodes. By the eighth, the competition will be down to a handful of competitors. (One writer said the program is like “Ice Road Truckers meets Survivor.”)
Todaystrucking.com doesn’t know whether Martin emerges champion or not and he’s not saying. All we know is that he visited all three continents, which means if he was eliminated, it wasn’t during the early stages. You’ll have to watch the show to find out how he fared. (Editor’s note: The original story was brought to our attention by a member of Martin’s family. Does that mean she was bragging about a victory? The suspense builds…)
What we can tell you is Martin is one proud Canadian truck driver who only a year and a half ago never thought about traveling to the far reaches of the globe or camping in the Australian outback’s or hauling haystacks in the backwoods of Mongolia.
Then after backing his ’05 Pete 379 into a parking space at a Flying J outside Montreal last year, he was approached by a woman who wanted to know if he would audition to be in the “World’s Toughest Trucker” Competition.
She took his photo, asked for some references, and then a few months later contacted him again and asked for more information. He eventually won the audition over roughly 10,000 other Canadian truckers.
“The funny thing is they had no idea if we could even drive or not,” Martin said during a recent visit to our offices.
If you go to the Toughest Truckers website, you’ll find him described thusly: “A confident friendly guy with a passion for trucks, and a serious habit of keeping his cab in immaculate condition. He comes from a trucking family and just married a fellow trucker.”
That fellow trucker is his wife Jennifer Martin, who also drives for the same company.
The site will also tell you details about the contest: “From transporting cattle through the desolate, sun baked roads of the Australian Outback to carrying fragile loads through the icy, treacherous Indian Himalayas, eight of the world’s most experienced truck drivers go head to head in some of the harshest environments on earth.”
What it won’t tell you is that the eight guys on the “World’s Toughest Truckers” are really trying to win. It’s not scripted.
“So there’s real tension on the show; the competition is real,” Martin, 36, says.
Martin, a father of four with 16 safe and proud years of trucking under his belt, is quick to credit his employer Drew Krueger for giving him support during the filming.
“He’s been fabulous with all this, and I couldn’t have done it without him.”
Source: 04/05/2012- by Peter Carter – http://www.todaystrucking.com/news.cfm?intDocID=28267