After the smoke settled on the inaugural season of the Meritor ChampTruck World Series last November, Mike Morgan and his #88 “Mackvader” race truck was crowned as the series’ first-ever champion. Racing on some of the most well-known tracks across the United States, the competition was fierce throughout the season, which culminated at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, Nevada. With about six race teams and eight trucks, the series got off to a good start last year, and 2016 is already shaping up to be even bigger and better.
The 2015 season featured races at tracks from the east coast to the west coast, with plenty of stops in-between. Beginning at New Jersey Motorsports Park in New Jersey on April 24-25, Mike Morgan of PowerShift Performance Racing took the points lead and never let go. Some of the other teams got close to catching Mike, but none ever did. Competing in every race of the season and almost always finishing on the podium, Mike made it tough for anyone to surpass him in the points.
Turning wrenches for 20 years as a Mack Master Technician, Mike Morgan and his PowerShift Performance Racing team are based in Wartrace, TN. With such an extensive background in Mack trucks, it only made sense for Mike to build a Mack race truck. Mike’s all-black “Mackvader” is a 1999 Mack conventional with a Mack MP7 engine and a 5-speed transmission.
With limits on horsepower and speed in place to keep ChampTruck racing affordable and competitive, Mike’s truck is squeezing out 700+ horsepower, but what really sets it apart is the 2,800 foot-pounds of torque! Mike and his team, which consists of his wife and a crew chief, longtime friend Matt Kuhn, did not expect to attend every race, but once he took the points lead, Mike couldn’t bring himself to miss any events.
We attended the second race of the season at Thunderhill Raceway in Willows, CA on May 22-24. At that event, we witnessed some exciting racing, along with some spectacular crashes (one of the trucks ended up on its roof). Mike’s biggest competition at that race came from Krisztian Szabo, a young racer from Budapest, Hungary, which ended up winning first place that weekend in his #23 white and blue Volvo VNL670. Other teams in attendance that weekend were Jupiter Motorsports (two trucks), Minimizer (two trucks), Size Matters Racing and Optima Batteries Racing.
After the California race, the series made stops in Colorado, North Carolina, Illinois, Virginia, Nebraska and Oregon, before finishing up in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 1, 2015. At this final race of the season, the big rigs were turning faster lap times than some Corvettes that were racing that weekend on the same course, which just goes to show how powerful and nimble these big rigs really are. Mike won three of the five heat races that weekend, while Krisztian Szabo and Allen Boles won the other two. In the final race, Mike got black-flagged with a 60-second penalty after an on-track racing incident, which allowed the #14 Peterbilt of Ricky Rude from Jupiter Motorsports to take the checkered flag.
Although he did not win that final race weekend in Nevada, Mike Morgan was still crowned as the overall champion for 2015. Following Mike were Allen Boles of Jupiter Motorsports who took second overall, Krisztian Szabo of Truck Race Team USA in third place overall, and Ricky Rude of Jupiter Motorsports, who finished fourth overall for the season. Mike, who operated for the entire year on a shoestring budget, wanted to thank Bosselman Boss Shops and FinditParts for helping him throughout the year, but he is still looking for a full sponsorship to help him in 2016.
ChampTruck is open to all 2-axle Class-8 tractors with commercially available diesel engines between 10-15 liters and manual transmissions. In order to compete, all trucks must be at least five years old – for the 2016 ChampTruck season, the newest model truck allowed would be a 2010. Trucks are not allowed to be highly modified, but comprehensive safety systems including a full-cab roll cage, competition containment seat, 5-point racing seatbelt harness, fire suppression system and safety fuel cell, are required. To keep ChampTruck competitive and affordable, a spending limit of $50,000 per truck has been set. The series is open to both professional and amateur racers and teams. With timed 30-minute sprint races on world-famous tracks and road courses, ChampTruck is excited to bring big rig truck racing back to the United States.
Looking ahead to 2016, the schedule is still being firmed up, but here’s what we know: the first race will be held at Palm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, Florida on April 9-10. After that, they will head to events in Virginia (April 30), New Jersey (May 20-21), Illinois (June 11-12), North Carolina (July 29-30), a location to be determined (August 6-7), Louisiana (September 16-17), Nebraska (October 1-2), Oregon (October 22-23), and Las Vegas, Nevada (October 28-30). For more detailed information, visit www.champtruck.us.com today or just keep reading 10-4 Magazine.
Mike Morgan is ready to defend his 2015 title, and his “Mackvader” race truck will be better than ever. If you want to see real racing, on real tracks, with real big trucks, ChampTruck is for you. We encourage you to get involved to ensure that this series will continue on into the future. Whether you build a truck, sponsor a team, attend an event, or all of the above, this series is for you – the truckers – so let’s all get behind it and help it blossom into something really great. If Europe can do it, we can do it better!