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Sports Then and Now




A Close Look at Big Rig Racing

Posted on June 05, 2020 by Martin Banks

When we start talking about racing, we usually think of sleek cars that hug the ground as they tear around the track. We don’t normally picture massive big rigs in their place. What does big rig racing look like, and why is it becoming so popular with race fans around the country?

The History of Big Rig Racing

Big rig racing might not have the history that NASCAR or Formula One has, but it’s been around since 1979. This racing style was featured in the opening of the movie “Smokey and the Bandit II.” Three years later, it became a sanctioned sport, dubbed the Great American Truck Racing circuit or GATR. These GATR races continued from 1982 until the sport closed its doors in 1993.

Some drivers tried to revive the sport in the form of the ChampTruck World Series, but found it shuttered after just a season and a half, starting in 2015 and ending the next year. The race series founder claimed they would work on reorganizing it, but truck racing as we knew it was over. 

In 2017, the Bandit Big Rig Series made its debut, which was the first officially sanctioned big rig race in the United States since GATR closed its doors in 1993. It’s become so popular that at one event, the line to enter the stadium to watch these behemoths race was over a mile long. 

Building a Racing Rig

What does it take to turn one of these massive haulers into a rig worthy of the racetrack?

According to race promoters, you can build a racing semi for around $25,000 if you’re willing to make the investment. Unlike Formula One or NASCAR, reaching a top speed isn’t the goal for these races. These racing rigs are restricted to a top speed of 100 mph for safety reasons. Beyond that, there isn’t a lot of modification allowed before these behemoths hit the track. 

While the aerodynamics of a big rig might not be as sleek as what you’d find on a more traditional race car, they can still have a huge impact on how successful one of these monsters is on the racetrack.

If building a racing rig sounds like something you want to do with your life, get familiar with the rules and regulations for the Bandit Big Rig Series or any local races you enter. 

Once you’re on the track, the goal is to finish in first place after a handful of laps on a half-mile track. There are occasional crashes, but injuries are a very rare occurrence on the big rig track.

Racing a Big Rig

Big rig racing has repeatedly come and gone again, and now it looks like it’s become so popular that it will be around for a while. You must be doing something right if your event has a line that stretches a mile out the door. Big rig racing might not ever be as popular as NASCAR or Formula One, but it fills a niche most people didn’t even realize they were missing.

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