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Big rigs hit the track in the new ChampTruck World Series

By on May 5, 2015
race-is-on

People turn out by the thousands for NASCAR races,motorcycle races, Formula One races. But what about big trucks?

They are already a huge success in Europe. The Truck Racing Organization and the FIA European Truck Racing Championship have been sanctioning Class 8 truck racing for about 30 years. And while there have been several attempts to develop a truck racing series here, nothing ever really stuck.

Enter Mike Ryan, a movie stunt driver, who regularly competes in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in his Freightliner. He’s set seven world records, running at events like Pikes Peak, New Zealand’s Queenstown Gold Rush and the Mount Washington, New Hampshire, Hillclimb. He loves trucks, loves truck racing and wants others to get the same thrill from it that he does.

“This is so huge around the world,” says Ryan. “In Europe, the smallest races get about 30,000 people showing up and the bigger ones get nearly 200,000 people. There are fervent fans. Even in the U.S., a guy in the Pacific Northwest has a few small races and he fills a grandstand with fans.”

So Ryan joined forces with John Condren, CEO and founder of ChumpCar International, owner of the ChumpCar World Series, a grassroots, low budget auto racing series. Together with two other main partners they have launched the ChampTruck World Series races for low-cost Class 8 rigs.

“Let’s face it: Trucks are American,” says Condren. “Mack, Freightliner, Peterbilt — they all have roots here, so big rig racing just made sense.”

The first race of the series was held at the end of April, and the season runs through November. Races are open to all who care to compete, as long as the trucks have full safety gear, and are a minimum of five model years old to control costs. There are also severe restrictions on modifications to control costs and maintain competitiveness.

“Some of our drivers come from other forms of racing, including off-road, sports car and stock car racing,” says Condren. “We also have people who have never raced per se, but they know trucks inside and out. So those who have driven trucks for years have an advantage in how trucks handle and feel, while those who have been racing have an advantage in understanding the track and some maneuvers. Right now we don’t know who has the advantage. That’s what we’ll see after this season.”

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