Hey guys its Maddie and today we are super excited to show you guys the next episode of our Trucking Culture series, which covers all kinds of music, movies, and other media that have made a major impact on the trucking industry. In today’s episode #9, we will be taking an in depth look at the most iconic trucking television series of today’s times, with “Ice Road Truckers.”
But before we begin, we sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed our Trucking Culture series so far, and we’d like to thank you all so much for making it so successful. Although in the past we have put the series behind our Patreon wall and eventually on our Jack’s Chrome Shop YouTube channel – for future episodes of the series such as this one, we will be transferring Trucking Culture to our sister channel, Chrome and Steel Radio YouTube, where we will be bringing you 2 times the amount of Trucking Culture with not just 1, but 2 episodes each month. If you wanna continue to watch even more episodes of Trucking Culture, be sure to like this video and subscribe to the Chrome and Steel Radio YouTube channel using the link in the description box below. Thanks for watching and let’s get started!
“At the top of the world, there’s an outpost like no other – and a job only a few would dare…” Ice Road Truckers, also known as the commercially abbreviated “IRT,” was a reality trucking television series that held its home on the History Channel for almost a decade after debuting its first episode on June 17th, 2007. Featuring fierce truck drivers taking on the treacherous job of hauling heavy freight over frozen lakes known as “ice roads,” this series showcases some of the most serious mother truckers with nerves of steel, driving the most dangerous roads to deliver supplies.
The idea for Ice Road Truckers originated in the year 2000, when the History Channel aired an episode entitled such on their show, “Suicide Missions.” This episode of the show, combined with a book called “Denison’s Ice Road,” created a solid basis for new trucking series – and later on in 2006, the History Channel would hire Thom Beers, executive producer of the Discovery Channel’s hit-show “Deadliest Catch,” who would ultimately help write, produce, and narrate the new trucking TV show.
The series premiere was seen by 3.4 million viewers – making it the most-watched original telecast in the History Channel’s 12-year lifespan at that time. Although the show saw skyrocketing success and rave reviews, some rumors questioning the authenticity of the accidents shown started circulating rather quickly. In fact, many real-life truckers heavily criticized the show for creating a false narrative around what life is really like out on the roads, and for dramatizing the danger of certain scenes just for filming. For instance, the opening scene featuring a truck falling through the ice, was rumored to be staged using a real truck and dynamite – but is actually a miniature sized model filmed inside a studio.
Speaking of filming, almost all of the show was shot on-location in remote Arctic territories in and around Alaska and Canada. With the earlier seasons focusing on Alaska’s improved but still snow-covered and dangerous Dalton Highway, and later seasons featuring the fierce and rather remote Manitoba roads. Also, in addition to the regular Ice Road Truckers show, several other spin-off series were also created subsequent to IRT’s success, including Ice Road Truckers: Deadliest Roads. Deadliest Roads saw 2 seasons – the 1st debut season starting off overseas in India, and the 2nd season set in the South American country of Bolivia.
Featuring a varying lineup of truckers turned television stars, main driver Alex Debogorski, is the only one who stuck with the show all the way from its first season to its 11th and last season. In addition to serving as the show’s “father figure,” Alex also is an actual father to 11 of his own children, as well as a grandfather to 14 grandkids and counting. Perhaps the second most iconic Ice Road Trucker is the lovely Lisa Kelly, who starred in seasons 3-5 as well as seasons 7-11. Kelly was featured as the one and only female freight-hauler on the show, up until Maya Sieber joined in season 5, and Stephanie Custance subsequently joined in season 10.
Other famous freight-haulers from various seasons of the show include Hugh Rowland from seasons 1-8, who undoubtedly served as one of the driving characters of the show and one of the best ice road truckers in the industry, after having began trucking when he was a teenager. Despite Hugh’s huge impact on the show’s success, unfortunately he was fired from Ice Road Truckers in 2014 due to a lawsuit he had filed claiming that producer Will Morrison had caused him permanent and life-changing injuries due to his reckless driving.
Speaking of Hugh Rowland, there was also Rick Yemm from seasons 1-2 and seasons 5-6, who was fired by Rowland in the show’s 1st season but was remembered for his bright blue mohawk and his punky personality. Sadly, Yemm has suffered a serious shoulder injury since the show that has put him off the road for the foreseeable future. Tragedy in the trucking world wouldn’t end there though – fellow freight-hauler and fan-favorite driver Darrell Ward from seasons 6-10, unfortunately passed away in 2016 at the young age of 52 in a horrific plane crash accident. Despite Darrell’s devastating death, his motto “any road, any load” will continue to live on forever.
Aside from awful accidents, the colorful and confident trucking character Art Burke from seasons 7-11, was apparently arrested for arson charges from an incident that occurred in November of 2018. Although there was no denying the famous ice road driver did in fact do the crime, he was ironically allowed to serve out a major portion of his probation time in the cab of his truck. Last but not least, we have long-time logging trucker Todd Dewey from seasons 7-11 – who was also as recently as 2019 involved in another horrendous head-on collision, ultimately resulting in the death of both the driver and passenger of the other vehicle.
Although many more drivers were also seen on the show, many maintain that it was those major truckers that drove the show to see such success. Despite being depicted as a real-life trucking TV show, like many modern-day reality series, several aspects of the show were very-much so scripted. From forcing truckers to fake owner/operator-ship to pushing pre-determined driver personalities, producers would even go as far as to purposefully pin truckers against one another by creating imaginary issues and starting falsified fights.
One of the most obvious examples of this occurred in season 5, when producers specifically tried to start a feud between the 2 female leads, Lisa Kelly and Maya Sieber, by setting Sieber up as Kelly’s supposed replacement. Other truckers turned TV stars also stated that the show stripped them of their originality by force-feeding them into a fixed personality prototype to better fit their set story-line. Perhaps the most prime example of this would be seen with driver Dave Redmon, who was supposedly set-up for failure and framed as the “villain” during his time on the trucking tv series. Speaking of villains, season 2 Deadliest Roads Ice Road Trucker Tim Zickuhr, turned out to be a real-life villain and in 2015, he was charged with and pleaded guilty to kidnapping and extortion.
Besides battling with the cast and crew, global warming and other climate changes have posed a certain amount of problems for the show, seeing winters like we’ve never seen before. For the last 2 seasons of the show, warnings of warmer than normal winter temps were advised by road authorities, resulting in a shockingly short winter road season. A season so short, the fear of not being able to deliver all the necessary supplies to the communities could become a reality. Whether the fear from the ever-changing environment or the growing list of grievances was the reason for the shows abrupt ending, we might never know. But, with 11 seasons, over 25 truckers, and millions of miles of ice road trucking under their belts – it would be silly not to bring this cult-classic series back to the big screen.
The last episode of season 11 aired on November 9th, 2017, and after it was over, many fans were left wondering – what’s next? Unfortunately, uncertainty hinges on the fate of the fan-favorite freight-hauling show, due to mixed reviews regarding the complete cancellation of the series. Some say the series has been shutdown all together, while other sources speculate that no such decision has been made yet for the future seasons. Regardless of whether or not the series will see its second wind, there is no denying the huge impact its had on the trucking industry as a whole.
Serving as the most successful modern-day trucking television series, Ice Road Truckers took the industry by storm by starting a new wave of trucking TV shows and bringing back a renewed sense of pride in big rigs and their drivers. Although the iconic Ice Road Truckers show has recently seen a 3-year hiatus, many fans still remain hopeful for a revival of the classic History Channel hit-series. Whether or not that will happen still remains unknown, however, you can always remember and hold onto the one golden rule of ice road trucking… NEVER turn off your engine! 😉
Thank you so much for watching our all-new Trucking Culture series featuring Ice Road Truckers. Before you leave, make sure you like the video, check out the other videos on our channel, and subscribe as we continue to grow our Chrome and Steel Radio YouTube account. We have already surpassed our goal of 300 subscribers… so thank you all so much for your continued support for our channel and our sister channel Jack’s Chrome!
If you have any questions, comments, concerns or anything else you’d like to talk to us about; please be sure to tune into our other shows including A Daily Dose of Hope with your favorite yogi, Ms. Hope Zvara, Bullhaulin’ BS with crazy cowhaulers Jerry Novak and his son Tyler, The Chrome Corner with host Dave Coleman, and last but certainly not least… the Out on the Road show with our very own, Bill Weaver. If you’d like to stay up to date with the new projects we have coming, please follow us at @chromeandsteelradio on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Be sure to stop by the site and search through our selection of Chrome and Steel Radio shirts available in a wide range of sizes spanning from small to 5XL! Thanks for watching, we will see you next time on Chrome and Steel.