Ford hauler driver Tom McCrimmon Katrina story

Tom McCrimmon has been with Roush Racing for five years and during the last three he has served as one of the team's hauler drivers. McCrimmon, who lives in Mt. Pleasant, NC, starting driving out to California with co-driver Mike Butcher...

Tom McCrimmon has been with Roush Racing for five years and during the last three he has served as one of the team's hauler drivers. McCrimmon, who lives in Mt. Pleasant, NC, starting driving out to California with co-driver Mike Butcher on Monday. His story is similar to others in his fraternity as they dealt with the aftershock of Hurricane Katrina and rising gas prices.

TOM McCRIMMON, Hauler Driver - No. 97 Roush Racing Ford Team

"We left on Monday night because we were watching the weather and contemplating which way we wanted to go. There are two routes to get out here. There's I-40, which we call the northern route, or I-20 to I-10, which we call the southern route.

"The distance is about the same both ways, so we were looking at the weather and we had to decide if we wanted to go through Tennessee and drive through the storm, or drive through Mississippi and go in behind where it already has been. We decided to take the southern route.

"Everything seemed pretty normal until we got to the west side of Atlanta and on into Birmingham, Alabama. When got west of Birmingham, there was no electricity and that's when we heard chatter on the CB radio about how if you're gonna go through Mississippi, you better top off your fuel tanks because there was no power. So we did that. We topped off at the last truck stop in Alabama with electricity, and as we were leaving there they said they were out of fuel.

"We went across Mississippi and that was spooky because I've been through there I don't know how many times, but to go through Meridian, Mississippi - which is a fairly good-sized city - and see it pitch black was strange.

"There wasn't a whole lot of traffic. I didn't see any of the caravans at that time, which was early Tuesday morning, but there was no electricity all the way through Mississippi and on into Louisiana.

"When we got to Tallulah, Louisiana, we pulled in to get something to eat at a truck stop that had electricity. Cowboy (Mike Butcher) and myself went in there to get something to eat, but we found out that many of the evacuees had moved up to Jackson, Mississippi and Tallulah. All across I-20, that's where everyone was and they were watching TV in the truck stop to see what it looked like and whether or not they could go back home.

"Needless to say, we didn't eat there because they were short-handed and there were way too many people for them to take care of, but that's where we saw the caravans. We saw tree-cutting services and electric companies, and they were kind of using that as a command post to get their plans together to go down south.

"We got out of there because I felt like we were in the way of more important things. "From there on west, everything was pretty normal, but there was a lot of chatter on the radio about how if you were going eastbound, you better have fuel because they're running out, they're rationing and there's no electricity.

"We got out here early and left a little early just in case we encountered troubles coming across the country, so a lot of us truck drivers have had a lot of time to talk about this situation. I've told them that I don't recommend driving at all across I-20 on the way back because we don't need to be down there. We need to go up around I-40 and stay as far away from that situation as we can.

"We don't need to be taking fuel off of I-20 when there are other people who need the fuel there, and that seems to be where the shortage is, so we're gonna stay as far away from it as we can. We'd like to do all we can to help them. I wish we could take truckloads of stuff down there ourselves, but under the circumstances we can't right now. We're gonna do what we can, but, to me, staying off I-20 is gonna be a help right there."

WHAT WAS THE GAS SITUATION LIKE ACROSS THE COUNTRY? "We carry about 250 gallons of fuel on board when we're full. On our trip out here, I didn't really see much of an increase. It was about $2.50 or $2.60. We topped off here in California on Wednesday just so we have a full load of fuel to start out going home. I think I paid $3.09 for diesel fuel out here in California, which isn't too bad, but we're carrying a little more fuel than normal going home, but this isn't a normal deal.

"Normally, we'd run the truck just about out and then we'd stop and put 200 gallons in it, but we're not gonna do that now. We're gonna stop about every five hours and when we switch drivers, we're gonna try to put fuel on every time because a lot of the truck stops, I think, might start limiting a truck to 50 gallons of fuel. There's a thought that places might want to do that so everyone gets some, but you're not gonna be able to come in and buy 200 gallons.

"It will be a little different going home, but I don't think it should be any problem other than that. We are gonna try to get fuel every chance we get, but it's just gonna be smaller quantities and we're gonna have to stop more often.

"I know at home in North Carolina, just talking to my wife, fuel prices are really going up and the supply is really getting scarce. The gas stations say that they're out, so it seems worse there than it is out here."

-ford racing-

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Series NASCAR