Eventually once the torture is over, the race is cancelled 30 laps before the finish due to the weather, so it is time to pack away ready to head off for the next race. The next drive is 877 miles which is do-able on a double drive but not necessary so we are stopping in Indiana where most of the other teams are based. We are taken out for the night by Geoff, a former truckie for Carlin Motorsport who now works at a different team based in Indiana. Geoff takes us to a place called the 1911 grill which is a really cool sports bar and includes a ski ball alley, a shuffle board table and a go kart track… yes that’s right a go kart track!! Believe it or not, the best meal of the whole trip, a steak to die for!
The next morning (05/09/19) we set off at 0800hrs to finish the last bit of the drive to the track. We spend the next few days setting up and working at the track which if I’m honest wasn’t very interesting. The time management at the team isn’t very good, so there’s a lot of time standing around with nothing to do and by a lot I mean around 9 hours a day, so there’s plenty of time to wander about and see what else is going on between duties.
We set off on September 4th and it’s 1240 miles from the workshop. We are double manning in two Freightliner Cascadia’s. I drive a Mercedes-Benz Actros at home so there are some familiar sights and sounds right away as Mercedes have some steak in Freightliner (Both owned by Daimler – TB) as the gearbox is the same, albeit hooked up better than it is in the Merc and the steering wheel and a lot of the buttons and dashboard are the same. Our first destination is Kenly 95 a truck stop in North Carolina. Some of you will know the truck stop shop in Lymm and some of you will know the one in Brescia est (Italy)… well if those two had a baby then put it on steroids you’d get this place! There’s so much in there it’s hard to know what to look for in there. It’s so big it has a Peterbilt truck on a turntable in the window and a Kenworth with a trailer on the shop floor. The highlight was the aisle of stack exhausts that from the other side of the room looked like a church organ!
On the 3rd of September we go to the workshop to meet our new rides and load them ready for the first race in Pocono. Two amazing Freightliner Cascadia’s will be our steeds for the trip. We get everything ready and of course help get all the equipment loaded up.
I’ve been saving these blogs for a while but they make for great reading! Increasingly regular blog contributor Luke Power-Hippisley, the big boss down at Tudor Services in Bristol, did the road trip of a life time at the back end of the summer. This trip would be a bucket list trip for most of us in a car or camper van, but to do it in a brand new Freightliner pulling a race trailer across the USA…….well some people get all the luck……or do we make our own?! The rest of these blogs will be in Luke’s own words.
6 weeks ago I was sitting in Altafulla (Spain) thinking about who to call to drum up a bit of work for September and before I could get started ringing around the call came to me. To see if I was available to go to America to work as a truckie on the Indy Car Series for the British team Carlin Motorsport and take the truck from track to track and help setting up and packing down. They also asked if I could bring a second driver so I called on of my best friends Matthew Campbell and asked if he was up for it and as you can imagine we ripped their arm off!
We flew to Orlando on September the 2nd and were told upon arrival one of our new colleagues would be picking us up from the airport in a blue pick up truck. What I didn’t expect was the beast in the picture with a total length of 40ft!
We will be flying to Orlando then making our way to Boca Ranton to the workshop, then we will be driving for the next three races. First Pocono, Pennsylvania next St Louis, Missouri then lastly Portland, Oregon before flying home.
Morning All, it’s been a little quiet on the blog front for a couple of weeks due to one thing and another. The Long Distance Diaries of late have proved very popular with you lot and I still maintain it’s due to the good old LDD’s that used to appear in various magazines 10-15 years ago. One of the blogs contributors is Luke from Tudor Services in Bristol. When look offered a mini artic blog this week I of course said yes please!…..
Leaving the yard at 0500 to head to Heysham to get the 1415 crossing to Douglas on the Isle of Man hooked up to a 33ft urban trailer loaded with the kitchen for a new premier inn hotel being built on the island.
I arrive in Heysham at 1200 to the devastating news that the boat has been cancelled as they are carrying out repairs on the backdoors which are not closing properly. So it’s off the truckheaven in Canforth to park up and wait until tomorrow’s 1415 boat!
Head to the port for 1200 again and thankfully the boat is now running so board at 1330 and arrive in Douglas at 1800 and park outside the port and go off into town for a little walk around.
Up at 0600 to drive all of 0.8 miles to my delivery. Once I’ve tipped I decide that it’s an absolute must that I drive a lap of the TT track as it’s pretty much the only thing that’s going on here so I check the tyres lower the suspension and head for the start line!
I have to say after a drive around the circuit I really do take my hat off to the maniacs doing 130 miles an hour it’s not like your nice smooth race track with good visibility it’s truly deadly from what I made of it. Once I complete my lap it’s back to the port to let my tyres cool off while I wait for my boat back to the mainland.
My lap time was 69 minutes and 55 seconds so there’s definitely room for improvement if I’m gonna take the record but it’s not a bad first attempt I don’t think! – Luke, sadly you can only up the speed limiter on an Actros to 130kph. Although it will help with your lap time I’m not sure the Police will be willing to write you an exemption letter!! TB.
Day 11 – Tuesday 12th of March
Up at 0530 for a wash and hit the road before 0600. My toll box give me a red X when I tested i,so I stop at a garage and get it reactivated while I grab coffee and a French hot dog. Nothing much to report on today fairly boring. I arrive at Port 2000 truck stop near Swiebodzin at 1730 and get the truck washed a top job and only £18 a thousand times better than the dirty water washes in the UK!
Then into the restaurant for the Polish special … pork and potatoes! Then off to bed ready for an early start before loading in the morning.
Day 12 – Wednesday 13th of March
I think this will be where I finish the diary as I predicted the best is behind me now sadly. 😢
I’m up at 0400 for shower and breakfast and out the door at 0540 my first port of call is the AS24 at Słubice to top off on the cheaper diesel. I arrived at my pick up in Luckau for 0755 just as they’re opening up to load a section of a crane for Sheffield. Another truck arrives to collect another section for the same destination and to my surprise it’s a Cypriot in an ex Waberers unit pulling a Dutch trailer! Makes a nice change from it being a Bulgarian unit stealing the western work I suppose!
I’m booked on the Thursday night boat from the Hook of Holland to Killingholme, so have plenty of time to get there. I call it a day at 1330 at BS-OST autohof on the A2 near Brunswick where I can enjoy a leisurely afternoon with a beer and a truckerpfanne for my tea.
Thank you to everyone who had read he diary hopefully you’ve enjoyed it and thank you to Ben for choosing it to feature on truckblog.co.uk for the past couple of weeks.
TB – Awesome Long Distance Diary Luke. Loved every day, especially the snowy bit! Badge earned.
Day 10 – Monday 11th of March
Alarm goes off at 0600 feeling refreshed after my day of in Tallinn. I open the curtains to see that it’s been snowing all night so I hope it’s not been to heavy and cause any delays today. It turns out I’m not the only one who’s a long way from home as I spot this Iranian truck waiting to check in for a boat to Finland just before I set off.
It’s a easy going even with the snow coming down and makes the scenery very nice on the drive. I eventually make it out of the snow after a couple of hours. I stop at the Latvian border to get my road tax, just as I’m setting off the snow starts coming down again.
Then I head south on the A1 towards Riga running right along the coast of the Baltic Sea. Next stop is the Lithuanian border where I stop and fuel up and get my road tax once again. I set off on the A10 heading towards Kaunas then on towards Poland, as I’m pulling out of the garage the snow is back! I get to a place called Jeziokri just over the border and park up for the night in a TIR park have a bit of tea in the restaurant and a quick look around the truck store at all the toys before getting back in the truck to go to bed and you guessed it, it’s snowing again so looks as if this weather is going to be following me back to the UK I think.
Day 9 – The tourists segment of the diary!
I’m taking my weekly rest in Tallinn I was debating on weather to take it in Helsinki and get a boat Monday morning ive been to here 3 times now but normally I’ve only had time to roll in and get on a boat.
I’m glad I elected for Tallinn now! I had a leisurely start to the day and woke got up and out at 1030 my first stop was the garage outside the port to find out how to pay my vignette for Monday and the cashier showed me how to do it online. Next stop is the Irish bar for a fry up and after that I go for a walk around town.
This place is incredible it’s so beautiful I’m pretty much walking around everywhere open mouthed catching flies. The old town has been preserved so well to maintain a medieval feel to it with old cobbled street and narrow alleyways.
Everywhere you go you can smell food coming from an awesome looking restaurant and the bars all look brilliant and even the shops are worth a walk around. If you are planning a mini break with mrs or a weekend on the ale with the lads this place needs to be at the top of your list! I can’t recommend it highly enough. After hours of walking all over Tallinn it’s back to the Irish bar at 1830 for Man Utd vs Arsenal.
Saturday 9th of March
My alarm goes off at 0630 and there are some aching joints after yesterday’s action in the cold! I get dressed and do a quick walk around check and head to security to get checked in to tip the load. I pull up where I’m tipping and get everything unstrapped and ready. The forklift driver takes the front two crates off with a small tele-handler and I then wonder how he’s getting the main machine of seeing as it weighs 16 ton. An enormous forklift arrives to take the last piece off, the paperwork is signed and I’m free to go, job done!! Before leaving I get my airline out to pump up the tyres that I deflated yesterday to get out of the snow and then I’m ready to rock.
I receive a picture from my driver Steve who is delivering to a cruise ship in Cadiz, Spain. We are separated by 3149 miles and 30 degrees celsius with Steve being the lucky one enjoying a nice 26 in his shorts!
I decided to head back the route my sat nav originally wanted me to take yesterday to see if it’s any better. I’ve still got the chains on from yesterday just in case but after a few kms the surface seem better than it was yesterday and the noise is driving me mad so I stop and remove them and set back off again. Within 2 minutes I’m driving into a blizzard of snow and wishing I’d kept the chains on! The road isn’t any better than the one I took yesterday and got stuck on so don’t know why the sat nav chose it especially with it being 100 kms longer.
I’ve been getting a lot of flashes and a wave or a thumbs up from a lot of the Finnish trucks which I wonder if it’s because of the truck. There aren’t a lot of DAF’s here and any you do see are white beaten up eastern block motors. Maybe it’s because they’re spotting the GB plates which I’d assume is a very rare site up hear too, especially in the north. (There’s the possibility they follow Truckblog and it’s like seeing a celebrity! But if that was the case I doubt I’d be getting a thumbs up more likely a p*** off! 😂) – ((of course they follow TB!! – TB))
I eventually make it back onto the main drag and can get a bit of a move on. I’m reloading in Luckau, Germany on Wednesday morning so will be heading back to Helsinki to catch the ferry to Tallinn. I arrive in Helsinki at 1730 and get checked in for the 2030 sailing. I’m starving so go to the hotel just outside the port that I’ve stayed in whilst working on a conference here a few years ago. I know they serve reindeer steaks, so I go stuff myself before the boat arrives. I get off the boat in Tallinn at 2300 and park up in the port where I will take my 24 hours off and set of again early on Monday morning.