Aurora’s star machinery operators giddy up for national plow-driving competition

Tim Kockler manuevers a front end loader through an obstacle course at the 2022 Roadeo competition, Sept. 14, 2022. Photo by PHILIP B. POSTON/Sentinel Colorado

AURORA | Aurora will send three of its best heavy equipment operators to snow under the competition at the National Snow Roadeo — a precision plow-driving event coming to Loveland later this month.

When winter weather threatens Aurora’s streets, the city dispatches its team of plow drivers, who work rotating 12-hours shifts to make sure residents aren’t stuck at work or in their homes.

But before snow season starts, drivers from Aurora Public Works, Aurora Water and the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Department are given the opportunity to compete and test their skills behind the wheel on a city-built obstacle course, and then against drivers from across the nation at the Roadeo.

The city course is designed to recreate the real-world challenges of plowing Aurora’s streets, like scooting around parked and stranded cars, navigating roundabouts and stopping the plow a short distance from obstacles.

Drivers Rodney Boyd, Dustin Euritt and Ed Evans conquered the course last week and will now represent the city at the Roadeo in Loveland on the 28th.

“My partner and I have both been here for a while, and we’ve both been driving trucks for a while,” said Euritt, who started working on heavy machinery around 25 years ago as a farmhand in central California.

He’ll be one half of the city’s snow plow tandem team in Loveland, joined by Boyd. Euritt will also drive a front-end loader in solo competition, and Evans will drive a skid-steer loader.

“It’s just a matter of being confident when you’re behind the wheel, and getting comfortable in a truck, and knowing your equipment,” Euritt said. “We hope to represent our city well and bring a trophy back.”

The Roadeo attracts drivers from across the country, who push plows, loaders, graders and other machines to their limits on a timed obstacle course. According to the event’s website, Aurora last took home a first-place finish in 1992, when John Mounier won the loader category.

Streets supervisor Demetrius “Tino” Turner, who drove a skid-steer loader to a fourth-place finish in 2019, said the precision driving skills showcased on the city obstacle course and at the Roadeo are the same skills needed to operate a plow effectively on crowded city streets.

“It’s practice for us,” he said. “There’s a lot of small streets, there’s a lot of parked cars, and sometimes there’s abandoned vehicles in the street, where we have to maneuver around them,”

The city said in a press release that plow drivers may clear as much as 1,325 miles of roadway during a major winter storm, and Turner encouraged other drivers not to pass plows or drive aggressively around the vehicles.

“Our drivers are out here clearing the way. We’ll be out of your way within a mile or two miles tops, so passing on the right or trying to get around a truck like that can be dangerous,” Turner said. “We’re trying to help people get to their destinations safely, so a little bit of patience would help a lot.”

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Gerti Ingalls
Gerti Ingalls
13 days ago

I love this! This is Colorado culture! I wish the competition could be in Aurora, too, so that it was easier for Aurorans to go watch our operators win! It’s hard to get all the way up to Loveland, they should move it around the state sometimes! I’d love to go watch this event, it could be fun like a fair.