National bound

Loganville resident Tim Vogt won the Georgia State Truck Driving Championships and is preparing for the national competition.

Tim Vogt has been driving commercial trucks for 16 years and has competed in competitions for more than half that time.

Vogt, 37, of Loganville, has placed first in the five-axle tractor semitrailer tanker division at the state level twice before this year, but this year he has higher hopes.

“I’ve never placed at the national level,” Vogt said. “But hey, third time’s the charm, right?”

To get to nationals, however, Vogt had to win at state and he did so for the third time last month, driving home with the first place finish in his division at the Georgia State Truck Driving Championships.

“It’s still as exciting as the first time I did it,” Vogt said. “I’m thrilled to come home with the win again.”

Vogt said he first started driving to get out of a dead-end job in the fast food industry.

“I wanted out of fast food,” Vogt said. “So I decided to give it a try and I ended up loving it.”

The married father of one, with another child on the way, has driven for Con-Way Freight ever since but began competing in the truck driving championships in 2004, a combination of his love both for the trucks and for victory.

“I’m a very competitive person by nature,” Vogt said. “This fueled the fire.”

Each year, Vogt travels to Lake Lanier, where he and other drivers in various divisions compete in various arenas, including pre-trip inspections, a written test and a driving skills course.

The competition is far different than one might imagine, Vogt added.

“There’s a common misconception we try to go as fast we can,” Vogt said. “It’s really the opposite.”

Instead, Vogt, driving a full-size truck pulling a tanker trailer, navigates a course designed to test his reflexes and driving awareness.

“It’s about precision driving,” Vogt said. “This comes after the pre-trip inspection, where we have to identify errors in the equipment and other areas of the truck planted by the judges.”

But while Vogt has won state twice before and traveled to the national championships, the coveted win has yet to materialize.

“I really want to win at nationals,” Vogt said.

This year, he will travel to St. Louis, Mo., in August to compete in his national division and he hopes to take home the gold this time around.

“I love it,” Vogt said. “This time I think I may can do it.”

Stephen Milligan is a staff writer for The Walton Tribune. He lives in Monroe and is a graduate of the University of Georgia.