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Big Smoke

by Chris Colbourne
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Big crowds, big noise, and big smoke. Sounds like a typical race night at Race City Motorsport Park in Calgary, except that when the Big Rig races touchdown for an event, everything is bigger, and louder, and smokier. It’s a heck of a way to spend a summer’s evening.

When the North American Big Rig Racing (NABRR) event is on the card, the fans come out in droves. Where else can you see 12,000 lb. race trucks knocking their way around a half-mile high-banked oval track at speeds of 90+ mph? The trucks are has-been highway and gravel trucks, converted for racing; stripped of all but the essential, and then bored, stroked, hopped, tuned, and tweaked to get every available bit of power out of the block.

Many of the racers are running 6V92 two-stroke Detroits cranked to 500 hp and higher. Some, like Cam Sully’s 1958 Kenworth, run L10 Cummins engines, squeezing out an amazing 500 hp – without blowing apart on the first lap. Allison automatics are the transmission of choice.

At this year’s inaugural race, the Waterous Power Systems Oilpatch Nationals, took place at Calgary’s Race City Motorsports complex. Nine racers from around Alberta brought their Class 8 racers to compete in three heats and a 30-lap Trophy Dash before a crowd of 4,500.

Ron Singer, the former chairman for NABRR said this year’s series consists of four races, two in Alberta and two in Washington State. Although in past years the series have been much larger – sometimes holding upwards of 15 races. And that’s where NABRR wants to be again.

A resurgence in fan interest and plans to revamp promotion for the sport is what Singer hopes will put NABRR back in the stock racing spotlight. He added the sport still has hard-core and loyal fans.

“There were people who were always following the series,” he said. “Calgary is our home turf and the fans have always been happy.”

Peter Van Dyck of Airdrie, Alta. took the checkered flag this time, but hasn’t been in the winner’s circle since 2001. He too, sees the NABRR series growing stronger because there are drivers, teams, and fans that support it. And there is always room for more.

At the end of the day, the drivers and the teams who keep them going will survive this small lull and rebound to bring NABRR series truck sport back to the forefront and on to bigger and better things, Singer says.

The next event is scheduled for July 15 at South Sound Speedway in Tenino, Wash. They’ll be back in Calgary August 22.