All Contestants with at least seven years of State and National Truck Driving Championships experience (competing and volunteering) are eligible for the Neill Darmstadter Professional Excellence Award. This award is presented to the Contestant who most exemplifies all the best attributes of a professional truck driver. Contestants are judged on their driving record, skill, knowledge, attitude, and professionalism.

Year Sontheimer Award Winner
1965

Albert E. Mellon

Matlack Inc. 

New Jersey 

1966

Joe Toney 

Associated Transport 

Knoxville, TN 

1967

Leo Granello 

Mason & Dixon Lines 

New York 

1968

Ben C Spain 

Mason & Dixon Lines 

New Jersey 

1969

Leo F. Wolf 

Gateway Transportation Co. 

Wisconsin 

1970

Cecil E. Chaney 

Pacific Intermountain Express 

Indiana 

1971

Claude A. Pollet 

Mason & Dixon Lines 

New York 

1972

Ernest W. Fernandez 

H.E. Butt Grocery Company 

Texas 

1973

Franklin Wiles 

Mitchell Transport, Inc. 

Maryland 

1974

Henry F. Fleishman 

Consolidated Freightways 

Ohio

1975

Cletus C. Frank 

Akers Motor Lines, Inc. 

North Carolina 

1976

George P. Holik 

Eazor Express 

Illinois 

1977

Chester J. Radwan 

Neuendorf Transportation 

Cicero, IL

1978

Robert Gardner 

Pacific Intermountain Express 

Indiana 

1979

Tito Carrero 

Suburban Motor Freight 

Oak Forest, IL 

1980

Elmer R. Raines 

Kroger Company 

Charleston, WV 

1981

Glen Dale Harris 

Manley Transfer Co. 

Kansas City, MO

1982

William M. Whim 

Hilton Contract Service 

Kansas City, MO 

1983

Bob B. Blassingame 

Yellow Freight System 

Texas 

1984

Robert W. Sherman 

Exxon Company, U.S.A 

Richmond, VA 

1985

Les Beall 

Safeway Stores 

Bowie, MD 

1986

Jesse Stauffer 

A-P-A Transport 

Lancaster, PA 

1987

Gary R. Castes

B.I. Transportation 

Madison Heights, VA  

1988

Ronald Nagel 

A-P-A Transport 

Marlboro, NY 

1989

Ronald J. Bowman, Sr. 

Getty Petroleum Corp. 

Aldan, PA 

1990

Richard Gillespie 

Star Tribune Newspaper 

Minneapolis, MN 

1991

Jerome H. Rider 

Consolidated Freightways 

Kansas 

1992

Johnny T. Ligon 

Southeastern Freight Lines 

South Carolina 

1993

John Chamberlain 

Giant Food, Inc. 

Maryland 

1994

Jim Wilcox 

Yellow Freight Systems, Inc. 

New Mexico 

1995

Norman Melanson 

Exxon Company U.S.A. 

District of Columbia 

1996

Ervin R. Lemon 

Boeing Licensed 

Washington 

1997

Michael Noel 

H.E.B. Grocery Company

Texas  

1998

Eleno P. Lara 

H.E.B. Grocery Company 

Texas 

1999

Raymond McKee 

Watkins Motor Lines, Inc. 

Florida 

2000

Roger L. Lantham 

Overnight Transportation Company

 

 

Year Professional Excellence Award Winner
2001

Joe G. Gonzalez 

H.E. Butt Grocery Co. 

Texas / Straight Truck 

2002

Charles C. Brown 

Yellow Transportation, Inc. 

Kansas / 5-Axle 

2003

Robert C. Akers 

Overnight Transportation Co. 

Oklahoma / Twins 

2004

Ryland B. Hogan 

Wilson Trucking Corp. 

Virginia / 5-Axle 

2005

Gerald W. Cudmore 

Yellow Transportation, Inc. 

South Dakota / Twins 

 

Year  Neil Darmstadter Professional Excellence Award Winner
2006

Bruce A. Green 

Yellow Transportation, Inc. 

Kansas / 5-Axle 

2007

John J. Hazlett 

ABF Freight System 

Pennsylvania / 3-Axle 

2008

Clarence S. Jenkins, Jr. 

UPS Freight 

West Virginia / 4-Axle 

2009

Thomas C. Turner 

Martin-Brower 

Georgia / 5-Axle 

2010

Dennis Day 

Con-way Freight 

Georgia / Sleeper Berth 

2011

Laurier R. Dumont 

YRC 

New Hampshire / 5-Axle 

2012

Denis J. Litalien 

Clifford W. Perham, Inc. 

Maine / 5-Axle 

2013

Ralph D. Garcia 

ABF Freight System, Inc. 

New Mexico / 4-Axle 

2014

Jeffrey Payne 

Reddaway 

Utah / Twin 

2015

Douglas Padgett 

Robinson Terminal Warehouse Corp. 

Virginia / Flatbed 

2016

Charles Woodland 

FedEx Freight 

Arizona / Straight Truck 

2017

Daniel Shamrell 

FedEx Freight 

Oregon / 4-Axle 

2018

Neil Nogues 

YRC Freight 

New Hampshire 

2019

Robert Dolan 

XPO Logistics 

Pennsylvania / Straight Truck 

2022

Anthony Spero

ABF Freight System Inc. 

Connecticut