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COVER STORY Laingen


PHOTOGRAPHY BY TOM BURTCHAELL


teach people to drive in a classroom! Are you nuts?’” The director invited the skeptical Laingen to come examine the program and offer his input. After the tour, Laingen was encouraged to take an application for the position. “He told me, ‘if you’re truly that concerned about driver training and driver safety, you should apply.’” Borrowing a friend’s typewriter, Laingen


dubiously filled out the application then dropped it in the mail. One $110 round-trip


ROADWISE |


ticket to Missoula and a three-hour interview later, Curt Laingen became Professor Curt Laingen. After selling all but two trucks, Laingen


moved to Missoula and quickly discovered he may have made a mistake. Despite having performed on stage in musicals since adolescence, Laingen was incredibly shy. “If I had really thought about what I was doing, standing up in front of 30 students, I wouldn’t have applied,” Laingen said.


ISSUE 5, 2010 | www.mttrucking.org Trying to cope, he convinced himself


teaching, like singing, was “kind of an act…a performance.” Soon he began to enjoy teaching as lecturing became a skill he would later cherish as an active member of the then- Montana Motor Carriers Association (MMCA). “I wanted to get involved in MMCA [now


Motor Carriers of Montana] to promote the driver training program where I taught,” Laingen said. “The school didn’t have the funding to join the association, so I became a


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