Bring on the ex­cite­ment of rac­ing truck cham­pi­onships

Big trucks fill­ing nar­row space cre­ate thrills ga­lore

Big Rigs - - EVENTS - Gra­ham Harsant

OC­TO­BER 21 and 22 saw the re­turn of the Giti Tire Su­per Truck Na­tion­als to Win­ton, in Vic­to­ria’s north, for Round 3 of the Cham­pi­onship Se­ries.

Steve Zam­mit ar­rived, hop­ing to ex­tend his lead in the points.

Barry Butwell, 22 points be­hind on the board, was in­tent on clos­ing the gap.

Truck rac­ing be­gan in Oz in 1988 at Calder Park in Mel­bourne.

Back then the trucks were road-go­ing prime movers with a race seat and har­ness fit­ted and thrown onto the track. They could have had sleeper cabs and bo­gie drives still fit­ted.

In­deed some driv­ers raced their trucks on Sun­day and drove them for work on Mon­day.

Frank Amoroso was one such racer.

“I go back to my younger days. I was al­ways a hard charger on the Hume High­way many years ago but I could see the writ­ing on the wall,” he said.

“As a kid I al­ways wanted to be a race car driver or drive trucks. In my early days there was no money in race cars so, nat­u­rally, I went driv­ing trucks.

“I started off with my road truck which was a Ken­worth Aero­dyne.

Put a roll cage on it, raced on the week­ends, con­verted back on Sun­day night and hit the road on Mon­day.

“Af­ter that came a Di­a­mond Rio which I had for about 12 months and then I bought this W model which I’ve had since about 1991.

“I’m the old grandpa of the place ac­tu­ally. Some of the other com­peti­tors, like Steve Zam­mit, were in nap­pies when I first started rac­ing.

“It’s some­thing I’ve al­ways en­joyed and I can hon­estly say I get just as much of a buzz now as I did 28 years ago when I first started.”

Chris Mif­sud, the me­chanic and co-driver of Frank’s Fate Rac­ing, has built the en­gines for the team since 2000.

“It’s 14-litre big-cam Cum­mins, es­sen­tially what most peo­ple would know as a road en­gine. It’s got a dif­fer­ent fuel pump, in­jec­tors and turbo set-up.

“We use a cus­tom ground camshaft and stuff but that’s about it. We use a stan­dard pis­ton which we mod­ify to lower com­pres­sion but es­sen­tially it’s a fac­tory Cum­mins. We run a com­pound twin Turbo set on it. It prob­a­bly makes some­where in the re­gion of about 1500hp.

“Orig­i­nally the truck was a W model Ken­worth. It was raced in the first truck race, back in 1988. Orig­i­nally it had a V-8 Cum­mins and it was driven by Alan Grice. It’s 30 years old next year.”

Barry Butwell also started rac­ing about 25 years ago with a break along the way.

“We’re go­ing OK but Steve Zam­mit’s still got it over us,” he said.

Barry’s pre­ferred mode of

rac­ing trans­port is a Mack Su­per Liner which has been re­built from the ground up.

“We use in an E7 mo­tor with Al­li­son trans­mis­sion it’s also got a Sca­nia rear end. It’s a bit of a mix­ture.

“The out­put is im­pos­si­ble to tell but we es­ti­mate be­tween 12 and 1300 horses.”

Mar­cus Prill­witz races un­der Barry’s ban­ner. This is Mar­cus’s fourth sea­son.

“Barry got me into it. I have a work­shop next to his and we like to drink beer. That’s how it came about.”

His truck was orig­i­nally bits and pieces around the pad­dock which “we threw it to­gether in about four months”. Another Su­per Liner, this runs a 892 Detroit.

“There are peo­ple who’d want to kill me for do­ing that, in­clud­ing Barry.” Mar­cus’s truck is one of only two man­u­als in the field.

Steve Zam­mit is the se­ries leader and, in all like­li­hood, will be crowned cham­pion.

“We had a bit of a rocky start. Barry Butwell did well at Lake­field Park. We went back to the draw­ing board and at the last race meet­ing we did OK.

“So far this week and we’ve done pole in two races. We did a cou­ple of lit­tle changes to it and she is run­ning re­ally well.”

Orig­i­nally the truck was a W model Ken­worth. The front is orig­i­nal but the rest was re-bod­ied from a W model to a 401.

Steve was des­tined to race: “To be hon­est the old man and his mate John Scar­cella, who is one of the own­ers of the truck, had both lost their li­censes, in 1989 I think it was. Tony Par­rish came down from Oran Park and said, ‘Do you want to bring some trucks down and race them?’

“With­out li­cences, they had noth­ing bet­ter to do, so got the old man’s W model (which is still on the road to­day) and went truck rac­ing with it.

“Back in ‘89 I was only four or five. I didn’t have a choice, it is al­ways been in my blood to fol­low in the foot­steps of the blokes rac­ing be­fore me.”

The week­end fin­ished with Steve ex­tend­ing his lead over Barry.

Frank Amoroso, although well back in the rank­ings, had an in­spired drive to win the first race on the Sun­day.

With big trucks fill­ing a nar­row track, this is an ex­cit­ing sport to watch. If you can get to Wake­field Park at Tir­ran­nav­ille, near Goul­burn, on De­cem­ber 2–3, be there.

PHOTOS: GRA­HAM HARSANT.

Chris Mif­sud and Frank Amoroso, the ‘grandpa’ of the rac­ing driv­ers.

Se­ries leader Steve Zam­mit.

Barry Butwell and his Mack Su­per Liner. .

Ready to race.

Rigs ready to race.

Mar­cus Prill­witz and his Su­per Liner which is one of two man­u­als in the field.

This Ken­worth is primed.

Face of Ford.

And they're rac­ing.

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