Craig Gruden, (Little) Donny Kleinfelder, (Big) Donny Kleinfelder, Dale Kristensen, Dave Schwandt, Alyssa Schwandt, Tristan Schwandt and Angela Kirstein will feature in Backroad Truckers, a Barriere-based History channel series. (CORUS Entertainment photo)

Craig Gruden, (Little) Donny Kleinfelder, (Big) Donny Kleinfelder, Dale Kristensen, Dave Schwandt, Alyssa Schwandt, Tristan Schwandt and Angela Kirstein will feature in Backroad Truckers, a Barriere-based History channel series. (CORUS Entertainment photo)

Shuswap auto recycler breaks out of Rust Valley for Backroad Truckers

White Lake’s Dave Schwandt joins Big Donny Kleinfelder on new History Channel series

By Marty Hastings, Kamloops This Week

History Channel’s exploration of the B.C. Interior will continue with Backroad Truckers.

Season 1 of the documentary series revolves around Donny Kleinfelder of Barriere and Dave Schwandt of White Lake, the stars who have parlayed appearances on another History offering, Tappen-based Rust Valley Restorers, into a show of their own.

“Five years ago, would I have thought I’d be on TV? I would never have thought so,” said Kleinfelder, the 400-or-so pound man who goes by Big Donny. “It’s fun. It’s a life-changing event.”

In Backroad Truckers, the stars’ businesses are pitted against each other, with a focus on hotshotting, which is the process of moving time-sensitive loads from points A to B, often through perilous off-road conditions.

“It’s a high-octane show, with big adventures, crazy scenery, vehicles you’d see in a kids’ playroom, but imagine if the playroom was inside a Mad Max movie,” said showrunner Matt Shewchuk, who gets executive producer credits, along with Mayhem Entertainment business partner Tyson Hepburn.

These types of series only achieve success if personalities click with viewers, who will have plenty to choose from with Backroad Truckers.

Read more: Shuswap’s Mike Hall geared up for third season of Rust Valley Restorers

Read more: Rust Valley Restorers behind car show and cruise to benefit Habitat for Humanity

Schwandt, who runs Twisted Auto Recycling, is a workaholic family man who has five children, a salvage dealer who loves building cars for demolition derbies and restoring old snowmobiles.

“Me and Donny have known each other for 20 years,” said Schwandt, who grew up in the Salmon Arm area. “Who would have thought we’d be on not one, but two huge shows? We have the potential to become a huge hit. It was not even remotely on my mind for something like this to happen.”

Shewchuk penned a concept for a hotshotting show prior to his involvement with Rust Valley Restorers, which is in the midst of Season 3.

After meeting characters such as Donny and Dave while working on seasons 1 and 2 of the car restoration series, the time was right to make a pitch to Corus Entertainment, History’s parent company.

“As each piece came together, it became more and more apparent that, yes, this could be an amazing show and we could tell some amazing stories,” Shewchuk said, noting filming brought the crew as far north as Yellowknife.

Kleinfelder, who spent a good chunk of his life in Chase, employs an eclectic crew that includes ex-con Craig Gruden, big-rig-operating little person Dale Kristensen and Angela Kirstein, a fearless foul-mouthed driver.

“I don’t care what anybody looks like, as long as they don’t have bad habits,” said Kleinfelder, whose son, Little Donny, also features on the show. “You’ve got to kind of take what you get. It’s two families trying to survive.”

The stars insist there has been animousity between them in the past, noting the conflict is not just a storyline drummed up to increase ratings.

“We’ve butted heads over the years legitimately,” said Schwandt, who used to work for Kleinfelder. “There is no baloney in that situation whatsoever. It gives great exposure to the industry, of what it takes to actually do something like this. These back roads we do travel on are pretty treacherous sometimes.”

The Interior and Shuswap, along with other B.C. regions, will again be given a platform on the nationally televised show. Kamloops, Barriere, Sandon and White Lake are pictured in the first episode.

What the audience thinks of Kleinfelder and Schwandt will go a long way in determining the success of the show, with Corus and History executives left to decide whether to green light a second season.

Episode 1 will air at 10 p.m. on Thursday, March 4.

“Curiosity killed the cat, right?” Big Donny said with a laugh. “We’ve all been kind of grinding away, wondering when is it coming, when’s it coming? Now it’s going to be here and we hope for the best, right?”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Movies & TVSalmon Arm

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
69 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The total number of cases in the region is now at 9,840 since the pandemic began

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Interior Health hospitals not strained by rising COVID case counts

While provincial hospitalizations rise, health care systems in the B.C. Interior remain robust, say officials

BC CDC data showing the geographic distribution of COVID cases in the province. (BC CDC photo)
One new case of COVID-19 in Golden

Cases continue to surge in surrounding areas

The Golden Golf Club will open for a new season on the links beginning April 24. (Claire Palmer photo)
Golden Golf club eyes April 24 start

The golf course is supporting local businesses with the driving range and mini-golf

An Interior Health nurse administers Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
105 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

Just over 8,000 new vaccine doses administered in the region for a total of 158,000 to date

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to a truck fire on Dallas Road in Vernon April 15, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star)
WATCH: Vernon firefighters quick to douse fully involved truck fire

The fire was near multiple structures and spreading along the ground upon crews’ arrival

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

Fire crews tend to a collision that is causing severe traffic delays on the William R. Bennett bridge headed east into Kelowna. (Aaron Hemens - Kelowna Capital News)
7 vehicle collision on WR Bennett Bridge under investigation

The collision backed up traffic on the William R. Bennett bridge for much of the morning

Kelowna company celebrates milestone of producing 46 million masks in under a year.
46 million masks and counting: Kelowna company reaches 1 year milstone

In under a year, Breathe Manufacturing Ltd. in Kelowna has hit production of 46 million masks for front-line workers

The organizer of a Kelowna protest against COVID-19 restrictions was fined by the RCMP for the third time Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (File photo)
Kelowna RCMP investigating hit and run involving 11-year-old

Police said the boy suffered minor injuries

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Most Read