On the ice road again: Series to feature Carlile drivers

Posted: Friday, May 29, 2009

Flipping through television channels this evening, Alaskans may see some familiar faces when they click on the History Channel, as the third season of "Ice Road Truckers" will premier tonight and feature drivers from Carlile Transportation Systems.

"We're really excited about it," said Peggy Spittler, a marketing director for Carlile's Anchorage operation.

The 2009 season of the television series focuses on the challenges faced on the Haul Road and the ice roads of the North Slope of Alaska. More formally known as the Dalton Highway (Alaska Route 11), the Haul Road is a 414-mile road that begins at the Elliott Highway, north of Fairbanks, and ends at Deadhorse near the Arctic Ocean and Prudhoe Bay oil fields.

The extreme northern latitude of the road, combined with so few towns along the way, and little traffic during the winter months, makes the Haul Road one of the most isolated roads in the United States.

"The season opens by challenging the industry to deliver 6,000 loads of freight to the oil camps of Alaska's North Slope in just 12 weeks," Spittler said.

Tackling the stretch from Fairbanks to the remote outpost of Deadhorse -- with treacherous terrain and unexpected driving weather, including virtual whiteouts -- drivers faced numerous challenges. Yet, Spittler said the Alaska chapter of the television series will strongly emphasize the importance of safety preparedness.

"The program is really action packed, but safety in the workplace is absolutely a priority and drives operation decisions at the core of our company. Some scenes were sped up, and none of the vehicles seen going off the road were ours," she said.

While the drivers are all Alaskan, one among them has Kenai Peninsula roots, but that's not what makes this hauler unique. Lisa Kelly, who grew up in Sterling and graduated from Skyview High School, is the only female driver featured in the program.

"Lisa is in the first one. She looks great, so she'll probably be very popular," Spittler said, of the petite, blond, 28-year-old.

Kelly, however, according to her biography on the Ice Road Trucker's page of the History Channels Web site, is "a rambunctious tomboy and a motocross-riding daredevil who is as full of energy as she is cute. Lisa has crashed both trucks and motorcycles, but she doesn't let fear get in her way on the road. She must battle the big boys daily just to keep her job."

For more information on the television program, to read the biographies of all the Carlile drivers featured, or to find local air times, visit the History Channel's Web site at www.history.com/content/iceroadtruckers-season-three.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at joseph.robertia@peninsulaclarion.com.

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