Nearly all written (or un-written) rules are there to help us keep out of trouble and safe. One of many general rules when behind the wheel of a big truck is this: to avoid driveline breakage when starting up a hill towing a heavy load, slowly ease out the clutch and let the low-end torque of your diesel engine do its thing. Well, during Labor Day weekend, that rule is torn out of the book, wadded up and burned to ashes as the annual Truck Pulling and Acceleration Competition held in St. Joseph DeBeauce, Quebec, Canada gets underway. The previously-mentioned “rule” is replaced with this procedure: pull your loaded truck to the starting line, pin the throttle to the floor and, when the green light flashes, dump the clutch and shift as fast as you can, climbing up the 900-foot long 9% grade to the finish!
Since 2004, this form of twisted mechanical insanity has transformed the small picturesque village of 3,500 residents to a loud screaming mass of 35,000 fans soaking up every bit of power and torque, offered by some of the most impressive trucks on the planet, as they attack the steepest and longest uphill racing surface around.
This year (2016) saw performance and attendance records broken under a full weekend of sunshine. A first for 2016 was the Canada/USA Challenge, which saw a group of rigs from the northeast going head-to-head with Canada’s best. Congratulations to Pascal Labranche for earning the win for Canada, with Kevin Smith doing the U.S. proud, finishing in the runner-up slot. Seeing and reading about this awesome event in print is one thing, but there’s nothing like being there in person. And believe me when I say, the hospitality of the friendly Canadian people just can’t be beat.
All the information, photos and videos you could ever want or need about this event can be found on their website at www.bigrigdragracing.com. 2016 marked my 7th visit to this race. Many thanks to Benoit Gagne and his staff for making me feel welcome so far away from home. I am already looking forward to what awaits me in September of 2017. If you have never attended this event, I highly recommend it!
#1 – Jocelyn Neron’s Western Star, driven by Mario Coture, does the bobtail sprint, knocking on the door of 90 mph up the 900-foot course.
#2 – A drag race isn’t really ready-to-go until a nice burnout is laid down, and this slant-nose KW was one of many of the smokers on the hill.
#3 – Nelson Druin’s Detroit-powered Volvo gets in on the burnout action.
#4 – Pictured here is an Ali/Frasier-like “Class A” heavyweight battle, featuring Nicholas Gagnon’s Peterbilt trading punches with Noel Sylvain’s KW.
#5 – This Freightliner/KW battle gets off to a very twisted-up start. The bravest man on the hill has to be Alain Gagnon, whose “office” is between these trucks! Alain is the one who stages the racers and throws the start switch.
#6 – Mario Raciot’s beautiful late model Freightliner COE puts on a smoke show for the crowd. The foursome of intakes and pair of sewer-pipe-sized exhausts are connected to a 24V71 Detroit Diesel borrowed from a 135-foot pleasure boat which pushes nearly 1,800-hp to the wheels. Watch for a full feature article in the future on this big red machine.
#7 – Sylvain Noel gets a nose up on Mr. Coture. Sylvain was a man on a mission, winning both the Class A Bobtail and Loaded competitions, and was also the top finisher in the Open class. Along with his class victories, Sylvain’s single stack KW reset the loaded record with a 59.54 blast and shattered the bobtail record with his 96.77 mph run.
#8 – Here is an up-close, in-your-face view of Nicholas Gagnon’s Peterbilt marching up the hill.
#9 – Close to 35,000 rabid fans crowded the course for both days of racing.