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

#Salmon ArmMovies & TV

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

Just Posted

Shuswap Middle School principal Sydney Griffith notified parents on Tuesday, April 20 that a member of the school community had tested positive for COVID-19. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Shuswap Middle School parents notified of new potential COVID-19 exposure dates

April 20 notice says member of school community tested positive for virus

B.C.’s 2021 budget is trending in the right direction to support farmers, says the BC Fruit Growers’ Association. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
B.C. budget receives thumbs up from Okanagan fruit growers

BCFGA general manager said budgetary investments put farming industry on a good trajectory for recovery

Vernon Vipers forward Tyler Carpendale (left) and Salmon Arm Silverbacks counterpart Noah Serdachny keep their eyes on the action during Vernon’s 5-2 B.C. Hockey League pod play win Tuesday, April 20, at Kal Tire Place. (Lisa Mazurek - Vernon Vipers Photography)
Vernon Vipers romp past Salmon Arm

Snakes score 5-2 B.C. Hockey League pod play victory Tuesday, April 20, at Kal Tire Place

Susan Martin and Peter Gook from Salmon Arm are the honorees in Vernon for the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s largest fundraiser, the IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s. People are encouraged to register, fundraise and walk throughout May 2021 to support the programs and services of the society. (Contributed)
Salmon Arm couple honoured in this year’s walk for Alzheimer’s

People are asked to participate to raise funds for the Alzheimer Society of B.C.

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

Police road checks are coming for people travelling between regions while COVID-19 travel restrictions are in place. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. clarifies COVID-19 travel restrictions, Lower Mainland a single zone

Vehicle checks on highways, at ferry terminals to start Friday

Reilly Jorgensen watches his grandmother’s dogs after she fractured her ankle while walking the pups at Enterprise Park on Wednesday, April 21. (Aaron Hemens - Capital News)
Kelowna senior rescued after fracturing ankle while walking her 5 dogs

The woman called her grandson to come watch the dogs while she recieved medical assistance

Canadian driver Paul Tracy pulls out of the pits during the morning session at the Molson Indy in Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, July 26, 2003 (CP/Richard Lam)
Vancouver is considering hosting a Formula E race using electric cars

The race would be part of a three-day event focused on climate and sustainability

(Pixabay)
Kelowna man facing charges for bike theft

The Kelowna man allegedly stole an e-bike from the 2200-block of Harvey Avenue

Jessica Lynn Pihl
Woman believed to be in North Okanagan wanted by police

RCMP seek public’s help locating 37-year-old

Chart from the April 20 B.C. budget shows sharp dip in real estate sales early in the COVID-19 pandemic and the even steeper climb since late 2020. (B.C. government)
Hot B.C. housing market drives property transfer tax gains

B.C. budget boosts tobacco, sweet drinks, carbon taxes

A vineyard wind machine caught fire in the early morning hours in Osoyoos Wednesday. (Osoyoos Fire Department Ryan McCaskill photo)
Flames from machine fire cast glow across Osoyoos Lake

A vineyard wind machine was engulfed in flames in the early morning hours Wednesday

President Joe Biden holds a virtual bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
U.S. to help Canada with more COVID-19 vaccine supply, Biden says

The U.S. has already provided Canada with about 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine

Most Read