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December 21, 2014

'Ice Road Truckers' Star Lisa Kelly Talks Danger and Earning Respect

by Chris Jordan, posted Sep 29th 2010 4:00PM
If you thought the ice roads of Alaska were tough-trucking, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Lisa Kelly, Rick Yemm and Alex Debogorski of The History Channel's 'Ice Road Truckers' fame are leaving the frozen tundra of the Dalton Highway for the out-of-this-world trucking action of the Himalayan Mountains on a new spinoff, 'IRT: Deadliest Roads' (premiering Sun., Oct. 3 at 10PM ET).

Look for the guys and gal to navigate the crowded streets of Delhi -- locals aren't very attentive to traffic signals over there -- and the Himalayan roadways, which date back to 206 B.C. The Himalayan route, first built for yaks, has historically connected Central Asia with South Asia and provided a bridge among the cultures of India, China, Afghanistan, Nepal and Bhutan.

TV Squad spoke with Kelly, who calls Wasilla, Alaska home, about her trip to the Himalayas and the challenges of being the only gal featured on 'Ice Road Truckers.' (And no, the married 29-year old has never met Wasilla's most famous resident, Sarah Palin.)

It's my understanding that India has a big trucking culture. Is that true based on your experiences?
Trucking is big anywhere because you have to get stuff from one place to another, but it is different just because it was so wildly different. I don't know how to start to tell you.

Folks don't pay as much attention to traffic signs and signals there as compared to here?
Ah, yeah! There's rules but they aren't enforced, so no one really follows them [And] there's no law on how much you can weight the trucks. Right before you break the frame, I guess. So they overload them and underpower them.

It sounds like you're glad you're not a trucker there?
I am very thankful for where we live and how things are set up and the size of our trucks.

What's more dangerous, trucking in the places that you truck on 'Ice Road Truckers' or the Himalayas?
It's definitely far more dangerous over there.

On 'Ice Road Truckers,' you once hit a moose. Did you hit any creatures over there?
I hit lots of cars and rocks, but no creatures.

You hit some cars there, though, right?
Oh, it's so unavoidable. Everybody smashes into something.

It sounds like a demolition derby.
Pretty much. It's like, "Wait a minute, rules don't apply here. We can do whatever we want in these trucks -- watch out, here we come!"

How do you feel you've been portrayed on 'Ice Road Truckers'? Does the Lisa Kelly that we watch jibe with how you really are in real life?
It's really hard to put out every aspect of my personality on TV in few minutes but for the most part I'm as real as I can be. I'm not faking anything. What comes across is the edited version, but more or less, yes.

You fixed an air valve on your truck this season. It sounded like it was a big explosion in the engine and you got out and you fixed that.
That was kind of cool because it seems like I know how fix stuff a little bit here and there, not everything. But it seemed like every time something happened wrong on the camera, it would be something I didn't know how to fix. I'm like "Why can't something happen that I know how to fix?'' So it was nice to have something happen I could fix.

In the last two seasons, 'Ice Road Truckers' has portrayed you as the new trucker who's trying to earn respect.
I've already proved myself to the guys in Alaska because I've been driving for six or seven years. They already know I can drive, but when the cameras are on, I have to reprove it to the world. It's a story. You can't just drive down a road, driving, so you build on a story. I would like the respect of the guys up there, but not to extent that I sometimes play, because I'm trying to make an interesting story. I do want their respect but I mostly already have it. I'm proving myself to the camera. But when the cameras aren't there, I just truck. I don't worry too much about it.

Has the show altered your relationships? Are some guys jealous that you get so much attention?
I thought we'd stick together and be a good family, but it's just not that way, I guess. It just brings out the funny side of people. It's been a cool experience because I have discovered who my real friends are and who turns tail and runs at the first sign of a problem.

Were you taken aback by the negative comments about you on the CB radio from the truckers during the June 13 episode ('The Polar Bear Returns')?
I was disappointed. The guys must think I live behind a screen and I'm not out there trucking with them. It's disappointing when you find out somebody doesn't like you but that's all right. Life goes on. I can get over it.

'IRT: Deadliest Roads' Preview

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