Big rig truck road racing is back in the USA! After nearly a 20-year absence, the folks at the Meritor ChampTruck World Series vow to avoid the errors of the past, which ultimately killed the sport here in America, while it continued to grow in popularity overseas. After years of escalating costs, shifting rules and changing directions, the American series became a mere footnote of motorsports history. Meanwhile, in Europe, Australia, India and South America, big rig racing has seen more than 20 years of growth and success, and become a world-class sport that attracts over 500,000 spectators annually.
So, how do the ChampTruck folks plan to do it better this time? By keeping it simple and getting it right. The key is to limit the cost of being involved, which makes the racing more appealing and available to a greater number of people, while still keeping it fun and competitive. By keeping all of the trucks basically stock, limiting build and maintenance costs, holding events on world-class tracks, and maximizing the racing experience for drivers, spectators and, ultimately, TV viewers, big rig truck racing can once again thrive in the USA.
If you are looking for real, affordable, competitive big rig truck road racing, you have come to the right place. We’re talking real racing, real tracks and real big trucks! And ChampTruck is open and available to anyone – racing pros and those without any prior racing experience. This series is for gear-heads who know that real transmissions have more than five or six gears. It’s a series for people who love competition… on the largest possible scale. ChampTruck is America. It’s a red-white-and-blue salute to a hard-working, competitive and fun-loving nation that depends on trucks every day of the year. With the Meritor ChampTruck World Series, you’ll get to see your favorite brand of truck and your favorite driver ‘put the pedal to the metal’ on some of your favorite tracks.
The race teams involved with ChampTruck include a mix of professionals and amateurs – the series is open to all. Some teams have been developed by truck manufacturers, dealerships and large trucking companies, just as some teams belong to smaller fleet businesses, repair shops and independent racers. But, regardless of who builds what, deep pockets and unlimited budgets will not put any team on the podium. Very restrictive rules have been placed on engine and chassis development which equalizes the competition for everyone. In the end, financial investment will not determine the winners – it’s all about driving. This racing series truly promotes a “grassroots” feel, but the level of competition is completely professional and world-class.
Participation in the ChampTruck series is open to 2-axle (single-drive axle), Class-8 tractors with commercially-available diesel engines (10-15 liters) and manual transmissions. In order to compete, all trucks must be at least five years old – for the 2015 ChampTruck season, the newest model truck allowed to compete is a 2010 model year. Trucks are not allowed to be highly modified, however, comprehensive safety systems such as a full-cab roll cage, competition containment seat, 5-point racing harness, fire suppression system and safety fuel cell, are all required on every truck that competes.
The Meritor ChampTruck World Series was founded by John Condren of Morgan Hill, CA and is managed by him and three other experienced racing entrepreneurs – Fabien Calvet, Bruce Hanusosky and Mike Ryan. John Condren is the founder and CEO of ChampTruck, as well as ChumpCar International. With 40 years of racing experience, John has been a NASCAR- and USAC-sanctioned track owner, team owner and championship driver. In addition, his non-racing entrepreneurial pursuits have included startups in various high-tech industries.
Fabien Calvet is the president of the TRO (Truck Racing Organisation) in Europe, promoter of the Dakar Rally, and a world-class truck racer. Bruce Hanusosky is the CEO of Bruce High Performance Transporters and an accomplished racing driver who still competes in various racing organizations. Mike Ryan is the president of Fastrucks, an internationally-known truck racer and record holder, and a movie stunt driver. These guys, along with a competent staff of support personnel, really know their stuff!
Although the series is just getting going, they have already secured an impressive list of big-name sponsors, including Meritor (Executive Sponsor); Minimizer (Elite Series Sponsor); Continental Tire, Randall-Reilly, and Optima Batteries (Series Sponsors); Fuel Safe, Best Logistics Group, OMP America, and Optima Batteries (Product Sponsors).
The Meritor ChampTruck World Series will hold 10 races throughout the year and then a 2015 Champion will be crowned at the last event in Las Vegas, Nevada. ChampTruck drivers earn points in each race they compete in, including each heat race, at every one of the nine regional events. Based on where the driver finishes in each regional race, points are earned towards the podium for both that weekend event and the overall 2015 Championship.
We at 10-4 were fortunate to catch all of the action at the series’ second stop – at Thunderhill Raceway in Willows, CA on May 22-24. With eight trucks competing and six teams, which included Jupiter Motorsports (2 trucks), Minimizer (2 trucks), Truck Race Team USA (from Hungary), Powershift Performance, Size Matters Racing, and Optima Batteries Racing, the turnout was pretty good for such a new event. And that’s right, you read it right – one of the trucks/teams were from Hungary! Krisztian Szabo, a 22-year-old college student and professional truck racer from Budapest, Hungary, was tearing up the track in his Volvo VNL670 with a D13 engine. In fact, he ended up winning the race in his white and blue #23 truck, sponsored by Bendix.
With lots of intense racing action, the trucks sped down the front straightaway at about 90 mph before jamming on the brakes and making a hard left in Turn 1. Throughout the weekend, there were a few mishaps – trucks went off the course, trucks were spun around, and, in one instance, a truck rolled over. The Minimizer “Team Tested” truck (#63), driven by Trevor Kruckeberg, had a heck of a time staying on the track – and upright! As seen in one of the photos, his pit crew had to make extensive repairs, with a sledgehammer, to get the truck back on the track for the next race.
When it was all said and done, the winners were awarded handcrafted, one-of-a-kind, super cool trophies made out of various car parts and such, by an artist John knows in California. We had a good time, and hope you get a chance to attend one or more races this year. Or, maybe you can build a truck and join the fun! For more information, visit www.champtruck.us.com.
2015 CHAMPTRUCK EVENT SCHEDULE:
RACE #1: April 24-25, 2015 at New Jersey Motorsports Park (New Jersey)
RACE #2: May 22-24, 2015 at Thunderhill Raceway (California)
RACE #3: May 29-31, 2015 at Pikes Peak International Raceway (Colorado)
RACE #4: July 2-4, 2015 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (North Carolina)
RACE #5: July 17-19, 2015 at Gateway Motorsports Park (Illinois)
RACE #6: August 6-9, 2015 at Virginia International Raceway (Virginia)
RACE #7: August 28-29, 2015 at Texas Motor Speedway (Texas)
RACE #8: September 11-13, 2015 at Motorsports Park Hastings (Nebraska)
RACE #9: October 2-4, 2015 at Portland International Raceway (Oregon)
RACE #10: October 30-November 1, 2015 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Nevada)