Thinking of New Zealand usually doesn’t conjure up images of big rigs racing around a dirt track.
That could change, or not.
Six big rigs raced for the first time on the Eastern States Speedway in the region of Marlborough over the weekend, according to the Marlborough Express. It was dubbed a race, but it was more of a fun, dirty challenge.
The trucks, ranging between 444 and 730 horsepower, are normally used throughout the week transporting goods around the island nation. But this time they and their drivers drove around a quarter-mile dirt track honking their horns for the crowd and kicking up plenty of dirt.
While the trucks did reach speeds of around 50mph, they never did pass each other, and because of the track’s size, only three trucks hit the track at once.
A manager representing one of the participating truck companies said he was disappointed that speedway restrictions prevented the trucks from passing.
One of the drivers said later that the trucks were hard to handle around the turns of the small track.
“We are really only good for the straights,” Grant Sheridan admits.
The trucks, which roared around the oval between the Streetstock Open Championship series, were there to introduce some levity, more dirt and show the crowd of roughly 2,000 a good time. It worked.
“Everybody seemed to enjoy them,” Eastern States Speedway president Frank Burns says. “It was a very positive buzz, and a big crowd turnout.”
The U.S. has had its share of big rig races, both on dirt and on notable asphalt tracks. The Great American Truck Racing series, according to bangshift.com, ushered in a decade of big rig dirt track racing starting in 1980. The trucks, however, gained a reputation for tearing up tracks and becoming too dangerous during crashes.
Big rig racing continues to ebb and flow around the U.S. Active organizations include North American Big Rig Racing and Rolling Thunder Big Rig Racing. Speedsociety.com features a brief story and video on drag racing tractor trailers. Huge plumes of diesel smoke are seen overtaking nearby fans in the stands.
Big rig racing in the U.S. still faces criticism in the racing community.
“You guys tear the track up too much,” Bill St. Paul writes on the Rolling Thunder Big Rig Racing Facebook page. “It takes the rest of the summer fixing it.”
The video below is from a Rolling Thunder race in Banks, Oregon in 2008.