Imagine watching a road race at your favorite track--vehicles screaming down the back straight, braking hard for a tight right turn that leads to a quick left-right chicane. The drivers slide the tails through with ease, quickly grabbing a lower gear to power through the upcoming set of fast sweepers.
Now, replace the 1200-pound sports car you're picturing with a 1000-horsepower, 10,000-pound big-rig tractor truck. Welcome to the world of Super Truck racing, coming soon to a racetrack near you.
In Europe, FIA Super Truck racing has been one of the most popular forms of motorsport for over 15 years. In 2001, the concept crossed the channel when STRANA (Super Truck Racing Association of North America) was created in March of that year. In 2003, these Class-8 trucks--basically big-rigs without trailers--competed in three races under the auspices of the Tonka Super Truck Celebrity Challenge (with the help of the International Motor Sports Association). Two of these races were held at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, and another at Road Atlanta in Georgia.
"About three years ago, we were working with ZF to develop marketing opportunities," says STRANA co-founder Craig Lerner. "They invited us to an FIA Super Truck race in Germany, and, after the event, I was asked if this type of racing would go over in the States. I said, 'Yeah, we can do that.'"
For the past two years, STRANA has been testing the waters at racetracks such as Mosport and Laguna Seca to excited fans and rave reviews. "There's a huge wow-factor here," notes Lerner. "We want the fans to get up close to these trucks, we let kids sit in them and families have their pictures taken in front of them. There's a lot of excitement that's generated before the green flag drops."