Barriere resident Dale Kristensen is a hometown guy. Born and raised on his family’s ranch, a graduate of Barriere Secondary, and owner of his own hotshotting, excavation, and snowplowing business.
A number of years ago he started to have problems with his back, which resulted in major back surgery a few years later to insert a titanium rod to support his spine, and eventually able to start moving forward with his life.
Unfortunately though, one of the rods in his back instantly snapped when Kristensen had to leap into action and successfully grab his young son Cooper, who was falling down a flight of stairs at the time.
The damage to his back was very serious, and once again he returned to surgery to have a new rod inserted in his spine. After a second successful surgery Kristensen then had to again fight his way through the pain, rehabilitate, and get back working so he could support his family.
“Yeah, I thought that was the end of me back then,” said Kristensen “But I just keep going.
“I had to shut my own company down due to my back surgery. So once I was moving around again I was thinking about getting back into the hotshotting business, and I was in touch with Big Donny Kleinfelder and his son Donny talking about hotshotting.”
Kleinfelder had purchased the old highway maintenance yard in Barriere a number of years ago to run an empire of hotshotting, towing, and recovery, as well as house his massive fleet of trucks and specialized equipment. Kleinfelder also commands a ragtag crew of drivers who may be rough around the edges, but are experts at navigating treacherous back-roads to reach remote businesses that urgently need their cargo delivered.
Kleinfelder is larger than life, and so is his business and crew who have become the stars of the new Backroad Truckers TV series premiering on Thursday, March 4, at 7 p.m. PT on the History Channel.
Kristensen is also part of that crew, and says he can “blame it all on the two Donnys”.
“They talked to me about hotshotting, and the next thing I’m in a TV show,” said Kristensen. “I know the backroads around here very well, and I’ve been hotshotting for many years. I just fit in there.”
Known on the show as Dale The Veteran (due to his hotshotting knowledge), Kristensen says he’s still surprised to be in a TV series, as the whole experience has also been about doing his job as a hotshotter.
Last year when Kristensen headed up to Yellowknife, in the Northwest Territories, the film crew was with him .
“We were the last ones to get into the Northwest Territories due to the COVID-19 restrictions at the time, and we were up there for over a month, and then we had to quarantine for 14 days to get home.”
Why did they go to Yellowknife?
“We went to do numerous runs up there to help out remote villages in getting supplies to them because their regular shipments weren’t getting in at the time,” said Kristensen, “We filmed every day, and I got to see some beautiful countryside, including the ice roads, but it was extremely cold, minus 48 degrees one day with a wind blowing. We had to leave the trucks running if we couldn’t plug them in. It was really cold up there, and it was cold the whole time.”
What happened if they had a vehicle breakdown while out in such remote areas?
“You always have to fix your own problems on the trucks when you are on the road. You are pretty much always fixing something, so I carry my own tools on board. You don’t always know where you might be going, so you always have to bring enough tools to get you through it if you run into problems.”
Kirstensen tells he almost had his “truck and trailer jacked” in downtown Yellowknife while he was up there.
“We got up there, and I was in the back of my truck where the seat would be organizing my tools as I have no back seat. The truck was running, and the next thing I know there is a guy sitting in the front driver’s seat. He’s trying to get the truck into gear, but my pedals had him confused and caught got him off guard.
“So I said, “What the #$@&! are you doing?”
“Then he spins around completely shocked that I was there. And I was like, “What the #$@&! are you doing? Get the #$@&! out of my truck!”
“Then he said, “Oh, no man. You got five bucks?”
Kristensen tells that as soon as the would be thief had gotten out of the truck, he grabbed his own cell phone that was on the passenger seat and phoned the camera crew who were in a house next to where the truck was parked.
“They came out and chased that guy for three blocks,” said Kristensen with a laugh, “But that experience sure scared the heck out of me, and after that I was not allowed to go out by myself – the guys were afraid they were going to lose me so I was grounded!”
What was it like driving on the ice road highways?
“When we were coming out the ice roads were starting to melt and it was creepy because they were cracking and you’re driving along and all of a sudden water is coming up on both sides of the ice road. It bubbles up on the sides when you drive over it.
“And its really freaky when the wind is blowing as it makes the ice road like glass, and you get out of the truck, and it’s just like a frozen black hole your looking down into. It was a creepy feeling to begin with, and I’ve got pictures of me stepping out of the truck onto that stuff.”
What does being a part of the Backroad Truckers television series feel like?
“It feels neat. But it’s just starting to sink in that it’s going to be a TV show and I’m going to be in it.
“Actually when I was in the hospital, right after I got out of my second back surgery to replace the rod in my back, they called me to say, “We got the confirmation. We got a show! Now just get recovered.”
“That was a really neat feeling,” said Kristensen.
During the filming of the series did he feel as though he was just doing his job while the camera crews tagged along filming everything he did?
“Yeah, they’re very silent in the background, and they’re just watching you all the time as you do your skills. They do a very good job of staying out of your way. Towards the end of the season I got used to the routines and to them being there. We all became friends – it became like your buddy sitting beside you in the truck.”
Are you enjoying doing the show, and how do you feel about it?
“I’m extremely enjoying it. I really, really like it. It’s produced an income and hotshotting is very fun. It’s a thing where you don’t know where you’re going every morning until the phone rings – and it’s an adventure every time. I can’t stand to just sit on the sidelines and watch the highway, because I want to be on the highway.”
The new Backroad Truckers series premieres on Thursday, March 4, at 7 p.m. PT on the History Channel.
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