Ice Road Truckers’ Alex Debogorski is quick to tell you reality TV is pretty close to reality. “I’ve had people tell me, ‘oh that’s all B.S.,’ but when there’s 100 feet of tractor-trailer going down the road, and there’s nowhere to turn around, it’s pretty hard to script,” he says.
Debogorski has been with the History Channel’s Ice Road Truckers series since season one. The eighth season is slated to premiere this summer, according to the History Channel.
“I had some pretty interesting things happen,” Debogorski says, referring to the footage filmed for season eight. “A lot of our characters went on some pretty big adventures.”
Though the polar vortex weather patterns affected much of the lower 48 adversely this winter, Debogorski said the harsh winter did not make as much of a difference for his hauling, though “it seemed to hang in there a long time,” he says. “I don’t think I had any major issues. Where we live [in the Canadian Northwest Territories], we’re better prepared for it.”
Debogorski says that the freezing point is usually the most dangerous temperature, as it can lead to slippery roads and uncertainty. “If we’re on ice and snow at 30 below, it’s about the same as pavement.” He says that he believes the winters will continue to get harsher as a result of changes in worldwide climate.As far as the show, Debogorski says the most challenging part is the pressure to do something new. Ice Road Truckers usually calls its characters to haul in different areas during different seasons, such as the season the main characters hauled in Alaska. Debogorski said he had not taken a CDL test for about 40 years until he hauled in Alaska. He’s now done many drive tests, mostly for the show to drive in different areas. “It’s a little harder to deal with change now,” he says, “It’s always a little stressful.”
Lisa Kelly to return with IRT new season | Fan favorite Lisa Kelly, with Debogorski, will likewise return to the show this year. Kelly took a hiatus during season six, returning for season seven in 2013, which Overdrive documented in the feature at this link.
Find a video ridealong with Kelly as well as a 2013 photo gallery at the bottom of this post.
He also says that it is difficult to know and remember what is included in different episodes and seasons. Fans will frequently ask him about an instance or something another character did, and he won’t know what they’re talking about. “I don’t know what everyone’s doing,” he says. “I just drive the truck I’m driving. We don’t spend time in a truck stop holding hands.”
Since Debogorski doesn’t own a television, he doesn’t catch many episodes of IRT. When he does, though, he watches to see what the other characters are up to.
Something reality viewers may not consider is the challenge camera crews face when filming a show like Ice Road Truckers. “If you don’t shoot it, it doesn’t happen,” he says, commenting on the pressure camera crews face to get it right the first time. He said that camera crews “are getting frost bitten all the time.” Meanwhile, the cold wipes out batteries quickly.
“I went from doing normal things, and now I have a split personality. I go from a bum in a coffee shop to a truck show star,” he says. He says that fans visit his home frequently. When he was out of town, he arrived home to fans from Germany. “They asked me, ‘Where were you? We’ve been here for three days.’”
Though Debogorski has gained fame, “it’s not like the Kardashians,” he says. He equates making celebrity money to a job in itself, as reality television pay is not residual, meaning participants are paid once. In a series of a few days, he completed six to seven interviews. He’s spoken and is speaking at a variety of events, from representing the Canadian military at a veteran’s celebration in Wisconsin to an appearance at the Special Olympics in Nova Scotia.With trucking, Ice Road Truckers, gold claims, 11 children and 13 grandchildren, Debogorski has a “plate full,” as he says.
“It’s a circus,” he adds, referring to IRT and reality television in general. But he also emphasizes the stories that emerge from the circus as making it all worthwhile.
Ice Road Truckers returns to History Channel this summer.