Defying life and death situations from a young age, Alex Debogorski has spent seven years exploring the dangerous ice roads of the world for the History Channel’s Ice Road Truckers.
Join us as we interview Alex about his scariest moments on the road, the future of Ice Road Truckers, and the handful of other jobs he takes on in his “spare time.”
This is Part Two of our interview. Read Part One here.
TuffWerx: How did the History Channel find you for Ice Road Truckers? Or did you find them?
Alex Debogorski: My understanding is that History Channel USA decided to do an ice road trucker reality show and contracted Original Productions from Burbank California to do it. They sent a crew up to Yellowknife, where they found a company which had trucks on the ice to film with.
Then they began interviewing potential characters to involve on the show. As they made their way through their list, my name kept coming up in the character department. When they did come looking for me, I was nowhere to be found. I was stuck out on the big lake (Great Slave Lake) in a storm, having been involved in the delivery of some heavy equipment by barge to a mining play. I got back to town and was interviewed, and the show went on.
TuffWerx: Ice Road Truckers has taken you away from your home in the Northwest Territories of Canada, to haul loads in locations you may have never experienced otherwise. Where do you prefer to work as an ice road trucker, and why?
Alex Deborgorski: The reality show Ice Road Truckers has taken me to many places I would not have gone otherwise. I worked out of home in Yellowknife all my life until this show came along. I made more money on the road with the show, but it definitely didn’t help my family life or my business. This is seven years in [to Ice Road Truckers]. I’ve aged and my life is changed. I think working close to home especially with a family is better, money or no money.
I’d have to say working the ice roads north of Yellowknife would be my choice of roads. On the other hand, I’m glad to have run the road beside the Valdez pipeline in Alaska, and through the bush and over the rivers and ocean to Tuktoyuktuk. India had its moments and I have a lot of new and good acquaintances in northern Manitoba.
TuffWerx: What has been your scariest moment on the road?
Alex Debogorski: There have been many life or death situations during my life. When I was five years old, I was laying down on the seat of a 1949 Ford one-ton, with 10 dozen eggs in a wooden crate between myself and the door. Dad drove through an intersection on an early winter day and we were hit by a tractor trailer load of drill steel. We survived, dad with glass in his eye and me with a broken leg.
Four days before I turned 17, I hit a freight train with my 1959 Ford. That was exciting too. I think there is a scary moment every day. We don’t remember most of them.
TuffWerx: What’s your most memorable experience during taping for Ice Road Truckers that didn’t make it onto the show?
Alex Debogorski: Last season, Season 6, I had the opportunity to watch my son Benjamin wrestle in the Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse, Yukon. I happened to be in Whitehorse at the time. That was memorable, but I’m not sure what all is shown or not shown [on Ice Road Truckers] because I haven’t had a TV at home for roughly 15 years. I do watch the show when I catch it in a hotel room on the road, which is not very often.
TuffWerx: You have had a full and colorful life so far, which you’ve documented in your autobiography King of the Road. What are the three most important lessons you’ve learned in your four decades of experience as a driver and hauler?
Alex Deborgorski: I have learned many lessons over the years as a driver. I have made many mistakes. One lesson would be to repeat those mistakes as few times as possible. I also carry lessons learned from other experiences besides trucking. An important one is to help those in need, even when tired and grumpy. Occasionally I have driven by and felt guilty. I’ve been blessed that rarely I leave any one behind. God has always been there, even though he does nudge me sometimes to remind me to always be thankful for the challenges he allows, as well as the tools to overcome those same problems.
TuffWerx: If you could have any other job, what would it be?
Alex Debogorski: I have many jobs.
- I have a proprietorship called Eagle North Contracting since 1976. I make topsoil, do general contracting, and buy and sell stuff. I have about 150 vehicles and pieces of equipment in my yard; I kind of collect things.
- I ran for Mayor and on another occasion MLA [Member of the Legislative Assembly].
- I write a column on and off in the Yellowknifer newspaper.
- I look for treasure through prospecting, as well as other ways. I hope to do some placer mining on a gold claim in British Columbia and am embroiled in some politics having to do with a diamond claim in the NWT.
TuffWerx: The photos in your website photo gallery must’ve been taken at your junk yard. What do you do with all of this stuff?
Alex Debogorski: The photos on my website are only some of my collection. I realize one’s first descriptive consideration may contain the word junk. These things reside on my two lots in Yellowknife. Eventually when I get some help, there will be descriptions under each picture. All of these things are for sale, some more than others. When the item is worth more to you then it is to me, I will sell it.
I was going to restore quite a bit of these, but have decided that I only have enough time to collect. The untrained eye may not notice the items of value in these pictures.
TuffWerx: Six seasons of Ice Road Truckers have aired so far. What’s the update on Season 7?
Alex Debogorski: Filming of Season 7 is in the can, as the Hollywood guys say. Depending on how many people watch and more importantly enjoy Season 7 of Ice Road Truckers, there just may be a Season 8!
TuffWerx: If there is a Season 8, would you be willing to be involved?
Alex Debogorski: Filming for Season 8 would start roughly around February 2014. I’d be willing to be involved, but I expect a lot will happen between now and then which could influence that thought.
TuffWerx: Where can people stay up to date on your travels and adventures?
Alex Debogorski: I’m afraid that I’m not very good at keeping people informed on what I’m up to on a regular basis. But my Facebook page, Twitter and website all have some updates and information. I still spend most my time trying to pay the bills, which I’m so good at incurring. When I’m working, I often don’t have the steam to talk to fans.
Photos courtesy of Michael Escott, Alex Debogorski’s Facebook page, Fred and Kelly Squires and IceRoadTrucker.ca.