“Ice Road Truckers” is a History channel reality series that follows a group of real-life truckers driving on seasonal routes over frozen lakes in Canada’s Northwest Territories, and Alaska. A combination of documentary, adventure, and reality TV elements, the show premiered in June 2007 and ran for 11 seasons, concluding in 2017. Another feature of the show is the clock ticking – the members of the show race against time to deliver the goods as promised or in an arranged time frame, which does not always go to plan.
The series premiere was watched by over 3.4 million viewers, making it the most-watched original TV program broadcast on the History channel since 1995. Over the 10-year-run, the series made it into every American home, and became popular in many other countries too, including Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands.
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- 1 How did the show start?
- 2 What does Ice Road Trucking entail?
- 3 How much do ice road truckers get paid?
- 4 Who are the stars of the show?
- 5 Who is Stephanie Custace?
- 6 How did she get the role on the show?
- 7 What is Stephanie doing now?
- 8 What is Stephanie Custace’s net worth?
- 9 Why was “Ice Road Truckers” canceled?
- 10 Controversy on the show
- 11 Blizzards and Ice Cracking
- 12 Which trucker had run-ins with the law?
How did the show start?
In 2000, History aired a documentary/reality series “Dangerous Mission” which was initially called “Suicide Mission.” One of the episodes was entitled “Ice Road Truckers,” and it featured the dangerous job of traversing an ice road or an artificially built structure running on various surfaces over frozen water. The episode was based on the book “Denison’s Ice Road” by Edith Iglauer, and chronicled the adventures and struggles of Canadian engineer John Denison, who allegedly perfected the construction of ice roads in remote areas.
Later, the channel aired several re-runs of the documentary as a part of the series “Modern Marvels.” Surprisingly, it garnered excellent ratings and piqued many viewers interest. So in 2006, the network decided to launch a reality series based on the book, and hired the executive producer of “Deadliest Catch,” Tom Beer for the job.
What does Ice Road Trucking entail?
As a bit of background, ice road trucking is exactly what it sounds like. In northern areas with extremely low temperatures, such as Canada and Alaska, some roads are artificially or naturally built on frozen rivers, lakes, and layers of ice. The ice road truckers use these routes to deliver various supplies to remote northern communities in the dead of the winter, when access is limited and made difficult due to weather conditions. Not all roads that ice road truckers drive on are built on lakes, but most of them are, adding a dose of danger and suspense to the job. The ice road season does not last long, and the roads are usually constantly maintained and monitored to prevent any potential accidents.
Compared to other means of transportation, ice road trucking is a cheaper option, as trucks can haul heavy cargo during these significantly cold winter months. Additionally, these ice roads add a thousand extra miles to the Arctic’s regional network of highways.
On the other hand, driving alone in the giant transport trucks, through frigid temperatures, can be very lonely. Spending time inside the temperature-optimized cabin can be relatively comfortable, but stepping outside to check something can expose the driver to -40 degree temperatures that can freeze exposed skin in 10 minutes. Furthermore, blizzards and whiteouts are also common, and often hinder driving.
How much do ice road truckers get paid?
Even though the ice road season spans over two, sometimes three months, from January to mid-March, the truckers are fairly compensated for their risking of lives in their work of managing these giant machine beasts on ice. A seasoned and experienced ice road trucker can earn his entire year’s pay during these two months. They usually run on contracts, and receive anywhere from $20,000 to $80,000, so it does not surprise that many people want to try their luck in the industry.
Who are the stars of the show?
Given that it is a reality TV series, every season has a slightly different cast, as numerous members exited the show for various reasons. However, suppose you are a fan of the show, then you must know Alex Debogorski, one of the original members who stayed on the show during its ten seasons. Other notable ice road truckers include Hugh Rowland, Rick Yemm, Lisa Kelly, Darrel Ward, Art Burke, Stephanie Custace and Todd Dewey.
Who is Stephanie Custace?
Born in 1994, Stephanie is a professional truck driver also known as “Hammer Down” Custace, the youngest female ice trucker on the show, and she quickly amassed a loyal fanbase who watched her tackle the job.
Stephanie reportedly expressed an interest in trucks from a young age and later got the road trucking bug from her mother’s boyfriend. After matriculating from high school, she put all her efforts into obtaining a class 1 heavy goods vehicle (HGV) driving license.
She is a single mother and often puts photos with her son onto her social media. Regarding her romantic life, she isn’t married, and has been very elusive about the identity of her son’s father. According to the latest reports, she is dating fellow truck driver Tyler Anderson, whom she met on the winter road.
How did she get the role on the show?
Even though ice road trucking is a primarily male-dominated industry, the show cast several female truckers who broke the mold and proved their worth in a “male” business, such as Lisa Kelly, Maya Sieber and Stephanie.
Stephanie’s friend assisted her with finding work as a trucker in Polar Enterprises- the same company featured in “Ice Road Truckers. The enterprises’ boss, Mark Kohaykweych, suggested the 22-year-old Stephanie for the show, even though she had less than one year of experience on the road.
She was first introduced in the 10th season, and starred in the 11th season. It quickly became apparent that Stephanie was cut out for this job, despite her seemingly frail and petite physique when she beat against all odds and successfully completed her first life-risking challenge in season 10. This opportunity marked a new beginning for Stephanie, who attained celebrity status.
Initially accompanied by Todd Dewey, another popular and experienced member of the show, she got a handle on the job with his advice and insights. A fast learner, Stephanie was ready to take over the truck by herself, and ‘put her hammer down’.
What is Stephanie doing now?
Following the end of the show, she went under the radar. Reportedly, she had an Instagram account with nearly 5,000 followers, which she has since deleted, but Stephanie has a large fan base on Facebook, with over 100,000 followers, although her profile seems inactive, as the last post was in 2020.
According to the latest reports, she focuses on her role as a mother and her career as a trucker. In 2021, she launched a calendar, but Judging from her Facebook photos, her life still revolves around semi-trucks, and many believe that it will stay that way for a long time.
What is Stephanie Custace’s net worth?
Even though Stephanie only starred in two seasons of the “Ice Road Truckers,” she showcased her skills, and most importantly her ability to adjust to new situations, and learn from them. As a single mother, working as an ice road trucker and being separated from her child for a prolonged period must have been hard for her, as she had to travel to Canada and Alaska for her jobs. However, it paid off well, as she obtained a substantial net worth estimated at $800,000, which she’s earned largely as a truck driver and a TV personality.
Why was “Ice Road Truckers” canceled?
After the last episode of the 11th season aired, the fans and the show’s cast patiently waited for news about the next season, but none came. Alex Debogorski, who was the mainstay on the show, didn’t receive any information regarding the cancelation or renewal of the show, so finally in March 2018, he posted on his Facebook account: ‘Those TV guys from Hollywood are a bunch of bums. You would think they would call and say kiss my rear hello. I guess the show is in the dust bin of history, pun intended.’
Even though ice road trucking is his profession regardless of the show, many fans believed that he should have been in the loop regarding future plans. Rumors about the show’s cancelation soon began circulating on the internet – the media outlet Entertainment Insider disclosed that the show was done.
A fan reached out to the show’s official Facebook page, and asked about the renewal; their reply was: ‘We are not sure, but don’t get left out in the cold”.
History channel’s PR vice-president disclosed in an e-mail: ‘No decision has been made yet on the future season of the Ice Road Truckers”. Regardless of the network’s lack of information regarding the plans for the show, it became evident over time that the show would not be renewed. Soon fans came up with their theories to justify the show’s calling off – some said that poor ratings played a significant role, and the show was apparently replaced with “Truck Night America,” which premiered in 2018.
Controversy on the show
Similar to other reality TV series, “Ice Road Truckers” attracted its fair share of controversy and criticism regarding some elements of the show’s content.
While it might seem that adding a rookie driver to the team is not that unusual, the truth is very different. It raised some eyebrows when Stephanie was added to the show and hired as an ice road trucker with less than a year of experience. As it seems, that does not happen in real life, as truckers are a group of close-knit friends with years of experience under their belt. The hiring process is lengthy and extensive, and the driver must be familiar with roads, potential problems, and how to solve them. On the other hand, a part of producing a good reality series is implementing the drama or setting possible grounds for it. Adding a rookie driver that would probably land in some hot water or clash with other experienced drivers is an excellent way of achieving it.
Blizzards and Ice Cracking
Additionally, the show was criticized for the exaggerated depiction of blizzards and whiteouts.
Even though they are common during these chilly months, the show portrays blizzards as heavily hazardous events in which the driver is putting his life on the line to drive through them. This is one of the ways to elevate the drama and bring a dash of suspense to the table. In reality, the drivers are very familiar with the weather conditions and the roads. Additionally, the roads are constantly monitored, and if a big blizzard is approaching, the road is most likely to be closed until it passes. Of course, it might cause some inconvenience, but it’s not as risky and complicated as the show tends to convey it.
Another element is the cracking of ice, which infuses instant panic and fear in the driver and the viewers, who know what might transpire – the entire truck might fall into a watery grave, and the rig must be moved from the weak point of the ice onto solid ground.
However, the cracking of ice is not that scary in real life, and it happens very often. When you are driving a heavy truck on these roads, it is entirely normal to hear the cracks. The truck’s moving causes it, and these tiny cracks fill with water from underneath and refreeze later, rendering the road even more stable by adding another layer of solid ice.
On the other hand, seasoned drivers know that if one is driving on the ice road and does not hear any cracking, the ice is too soft. That is highly hazardous, and can cost a driver his truck. Usually, a team is sent to the area to spray with water, to so increase its thickness and solidity.
Which trucker had run-ins with the law?
In 2015, Timothy Zickuhr became the focal point of media outlets after being imprisoned on two charges of kidnapping and extortion. Timothy is a star of “Ice Road Truckers” spin-off series entitled “Deadliest Roads,” appearing in the second season. According to the court documents, Timothy hired a prostitute who allegedly stole money from him. He gave her his credit card details to withdraw money, but she reportedly took more than he intended to pay her. After this discovery, he kidnapped her and assaulted her in captivity. The prostitute, known only under the alias “Snow White,” tricked him into calling a police officer, who later arrested him.
Additionally, he had been accused of assaulting and robbing an 80-year-old-woman. As a result, Timothy was sentenced to 15 years in prison.