Heavy Equipment Drivers Tackle Obstacle Course

A parking lot at the Gulfport sportsplex became a giant obstacle course Wednesday.

Heavy equipment operators from the Mississippi Department of Transportation are holding a statewide driving rodeo.

Back hoe drivers compete by picking up golf balls with their giant scoops and dropping the balls into small plastic pipes.

Along with specialty skills, many of the events require precision driving.

For those who have trouble parallel parking, imagine parking a 56 foot trailer. Drivers say it's every bit as tough as it looks.

"Bad tough. And then they tightened the course up this year. And then they've got a longer, for the low boy, a longer trailer. So, that made it altogether bad," said Tupelo driver, Paul "Lightning" Walker.

The Gulfport competition is the statewide finals. Top drivers from the six M-DOT districts across Mississippi are competing for bragging rights.

Walker says the annual competition is a big morale booster for the M-DOT drivers. He said it also helps them improve their driving safety skills.