Alaska company, road focus of History Channel's 13-part TV series

'Ice Road Truckers' features Carlile drivers along the Dalton Highway, or Haul Road

Posted: Monday, June 15, 2009

ANCHORAGE - Alaska's Haul Road is the basis for the new season of the History Channel's "Ice Road Truckers." And drivers from Alaska-based Carlile Transportation Inc. are the stars.

"In the dark heart of Alaska, there is a road that's hell frozen over," according to the network's promotions.

The 13-part series features Carlile drivers working along the Dalton Highway, often referred to as the Haul Road. The isolated stretch is the only connection to the Prudhoe Bay oil fields, and is considered to be among the world's most dangerous roads.

The Los Angeles-based production company Original Productions spent three months on the Haul Road filming the series.

The 18-member production crew, all originally from California, enjoyed shooting the series, according to the executive co-producer.

"Carlile and the drivers were fantastic, we just can't say enough about what great material we got," said Dawn Fitzgerald. "Every mile of the Dalton was a new challenge. This was just perfect."

The crews based their work out of Fairbanks and rode with different truckers to film the series.

"We started shooting in February, and finished up the shooting in April, and are editing series right now," said Fitzgerald. "Fairbanks worked out wonderful for us, this was really much easier logistically than the ice roads in Canada."

Featured on the show are eight characters who have various rolls in the series. Featured are: George Spears, Alex Debogorski, Hugh Rowland, Carey Hall, Jack Jesee, Lisa Kelly, Cody Hyce and Tim Freeman.

"It's pretty good. I haven't seen all the episodes but the first ones they sent are all real stuff," said Carlile CEO Harry McDonald. "The filming of this didn't bother them (drivers) in the least. Most of the attention is to safety."

The series "Ice Road Truckers" is in its third year, and this is the second year that Fitzgerald field produced the program.

"This was not a flat road, but turns, valleys, hills and then Atigun Pass, a winding road over the Brooks Range and then down on to the snow-blown tundra of the North Slope. It was all pretty exciting," said Fitzpatrick.

Fitzgerald said crews shot the real-life challenges that translate into a better show.

"We gathered enough good footage in the first three days that any place else would have taken three weeks to get," she said.

The production company was only allowed to film and go to one North Slope ice road on its way to Oooguruk Island, due to oil company security and safety issues.

The series centers on Sourdough George Spears, nicknamed "The Veteran," a longtime driver who is set to retire soon.

The series also features the drama of state Department of Transportation crews clearing deeps snow and avalanches from roadways, and the driver's reaction to traffic and road challenges.

"The drivers enjoyed the crews, and it looks like the whole project was successful for both sides," said McDonald. "We were pleased that they chose our company and drivers; it worked out real well for both of us."

Carlile Transportation employs 400 drivers, and has 600 employees in Alaska, Washington, Texas and Alberta, Canada.

"This is the best show we've ever done," said Fitzgerald. "We'll be back."

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