Billy was standing on the checker plate step mounted to the shiny dual stainless steel diesel tanks on the side of his Kenworth Areodyne, he’d just finished checking the air brake and power connections for his trailer. His truck was fully fuelled with more than 800 litres of diesel and ready to hit the road. Billy himself was primed and ready for the 900 kilometre Melbourne to Sydney trip. Ten hours depot to depot, eleven if the the checking stations wanted to make his life difficult.
His trip for the night, as usual, was the Hume Highway run, one of the busiest roads in the entire country and the busiest trucking freight route, especially at night. His own company sent eight B-Double trucks nightly between Melbourne and Sydney, four south bound and four north bound. Billy was one of four heading north out of Melbourne, his aim was to leave by 7pm, once the city traffic had died down, and arrive in Sydney around the 5:30am mark, unload, sleep and do it all again the following night.
His main concerns for the night, boredom, wildlife, caravans and the two checking stations he was required to pass through. As much as he’d like to he couldn’t control wildlife, had even less control over caravans and boredom was just one of those things that one hoped to avoid whilst driving. Checking stations were another issue all together, if they were open he was required to stop on the scales where they would weigh his truck, weight loaded on each of the nine axles plus a total weight, check his books, check his hours and check his spelling like a first grade teacher. There was fines for over loading, fines for going over his hours, fines for being too quick and the fines for making spelling mistakes in his log book.
By far the worst of these was the fine for overloading because of course Billy was overloaded. He was only 12 tonne over his 65 tonne limit but with fines in the thousands it was always a risk. His first checking station, not far out of Broadford, was more than likely shut but he’d be listening hard to the CB radio to make sure. Far more worrying was the Marulan plate, 160 kilometres out of Sydney, rarely closed and always ready to catch those truckies willing to run the gauntlet. Still there was no point worrying about those issues until they presented themselves.
His truck was slowly idling and waiting for him and he was hanging from the open door just about to jump into the cabin when he noticed Phil walking through the yard headed towards his own Kenworth. Although both trucks were painted in the same blue and yellow livery and both had Kenworth badges on the front Billy’s was a cab over Aerodyne and Phil’s was a long nose T409. Billy knew Phil was one of the other three drivers that was doing the the Melbourne to Sydney run, he also knew Phil would be up for a little wager to make things interesting.
“Hey Phil,” Billy called out when Phil got closer, Phil waved but kept walking. “$500 says I beat you in tomorrow morning.”
Of course drivers racing trucks anywhere was illegal and definitely against company policy, but what the company didn’t know didn’t hurt them. It was for that reason Phil said nothing in response to Billy’s offer, he did however wave and give him a nod. Billy watched Phil walk to his truck, he then climbed in his own cabin and filled out the required panels of his log book, once finished he dropped his book into his bag and retrieved the CB microphone from it’s cradle above his head.
“See ya there!” he called into the microphone knowing that Phil would be listening as he filled out his log book and let his truck warm to operating speed.
Because he still wasn’t ready to leave Phil simply reached up, pressed his microphone button called out “Bastard!” and watched as Billy’s truck slowly pulled out of the depot and onto the main road.
Billy was still laughing as his second trailer pulled onto the road and dragged itself into line with his lead trailer and the tractor. Over the next ten or so hours his twenty minute lead on Phil would mean very little but he wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth when it came to a gain of any sort.
Billy powered of through the outskirts of the city, his twenty minute lead could easily be lost before he was out of the city, all it would take was a bad run with traffic lights, which in a B-Double could happen at any set of traffic lights, and Phil could catch up.
Driving out through Essendon and towards Campbellfield along the Ring Road the traffic was relatively light all the way up to the roadworks. It wasn’t that Billy had forgotten about the roadworks but even with them holding up traffic for a few minutes the Ring Road was still a better option for such a large truck as opposed to using the feeder roads. Billy kept his eyes on his mirrors for any sign of Phil’s truck.
All up Billy was stopped for sixteen minutes but he still couldn’t see Phil when he took off and as he was the last vehicle let though before the lights changed to red again he felt confident he was going to retain his lead. Off the Ring Road and onto the Hume Highway Billy was cruising, ahead of his buddy and no more traffic lights to hold him up. Switching off the FM radio he cranked up the CD and let the Hoodoo Gurus pump through the truck’s sound system.
Ten kilometres along the highway, where Sydney Road joins the Hume, Billy spotted something that had him glancing twice. Pulling onto the highway and clearly in front of him was Phil’s truck.
“Fuck it!” Billy yelled at the windscreen. “How the hell did you do that?”
Turning down the stereo and about to pull the CB mic down from the cradle ready to give Phil a mouthful of abuse he was stopped by the sound of laughter which came through the speakers, it was followed by a voice.
“Want to concede yet buddy?”
A hopeful Billy wasn’t about to concede his $500, Phil was less than 150 meters in front of him and they still had at least nine hours of driving ahead of them. He yanked down his mic and hit back. “Bring it on!”
The two trucks powered on into the setting summer sun, hell bent and glory bound.