Truck­ing pow­ers mo­tor­sport

Big brands link with top teams

Big Rigs - - BIG RIGS | FEATURE - Brent Dav­i­son

AUS­TRALIA’S 2018 Vir­gin Aus­tralia Su­per­cars Cham­pi­onship was a nail-biter from the mo­ment the lights went out on the first race in Ade­laide un­til the che­quered flag fell on the fi­nal race in New­cas­tle.

It was a sea­son in which con­tenders ei­ther stepped up or got out un­til just two play­ers, Ford gun Scott McLaugh­lin and Holden pi­lot Shane van Gis­ber­gen, stood fast for a shot at the ti­tle.

When push came to shove though it was McLaugh­lin, driv­ing his Dick John­son Rac­ing Team Penske-run Shell V-Power-spon­sored Ford Fal­con in its last-ever premier race, who dom­i­nated on the streets of New­cas­tle to smash his Red Bull-sup­ported, Holden-driv­ing ri­val.

What his­tory will prob­a­bly not show is that both cars – and those of many oth­ers in the 26-strong cham­pi­onship field – had strong sup­port from Aus­tralia’s truck­ing in­dus­try, McLaugh­lin’s from the Penske or­gan­i­sa­tion and van Gis­ber­gen’s from Iveco.

In fact the broader na­tional truck­ing in­dus­try ap­pears to be mak­ing a friendly spon­sor­ship takeover at­tempt on the coun­try’s premier mo­tor rac­ing cham­pi­onship.

Mo­tor­sport has al­ways been pow­ered by money and as we look to­wards Ade­laide 2019 sea­son opener in early March it is easy to see that fi­nan­cial sup­port strength­en­ing.

Penske, for ex­am­ple, has a proud mo­tor­sport her­itage dat­ing back to the late 1950s, when com­pany pa­tri­arch Roger Penske stepped into his first race car.

Over the years the com­pany has raced in Amer­ica’s premier NASCAR and IndyCar cham­pi­onships, var­i­ous sports car classes and even dab­bled in For­mula One.

Through its Dick John­son Rac­ing Team Penske out­let, Penske Aus­tralia puts a num­ber of its brands in front of the TV cam­eras, such as West­ern Star Trucks, MAN Truck and Bus, MTU, Detroit, and Penske Truck Rental.

Not quite so il­lus­tri­ous but no less sup­port­ive is In­ter­na­tional Trucks Aus­tralia which clev­erly has a foot in both the Ford and Holden camps, its Iveco brand sup­port­ing Triple Eight Race En­gi­neer­ing’s Red Bull Rac­ing cam­paign and its In­ter­na­tional brand sup­port­ing Tick­ford Rac­ing.

Volvo prime movers lug the Garry Rogers Mo­tor­sport cars and equip­ment around the coun­try.

GRM used to cam­paign Volvo cars in the cham­pi­onship but these days runs Hold­ens. De­spite that, the Volvo trucks have stayed and the Volvo sig­nage still ap­pears on the race cars.

Volvo-owned Mack has a sim­i­lar ar­range­ment with the four-car Kelly Rac­ing out­fit. In­ter­est­ingly, the Kelly team runs Nis­sans from its Brae­side, Vic­to­ria, base but Nis­san’s UD truck brand is not a sup­porter.

Al­bury-based Brad Jones Rac­ing has a prime mover and spon­sor­ship deal with Freight­liner and its as­so­ci­ated parts divi­sion, Al­liance Truck Parts, neatly blend­ing the new and the af­ter­mar­ket with Freight­liner and Al­liance open­ing the door for the spare parts in­dus­try, spe­cial­ist in­sur­ers and some of the larger lo­gis­tics com­pa­nies as well.

Truck As­sist, for ex­am­ple, ap­pears promi­nently on Jack le Brocq’s Te­kno Au­tosports Holden Com­modore, a sin­gle-car op­er­a­tion run out of the Gold Coast by Jonathon Webb. Mel­bourne-based trans­port com­pany Palm Trans fea­tures on Garry Ja­cob­son’s Nis­san Al­tima Su­per2 car.

Bris­bane-based SCT Lo­gis­tics is emerg­ing as a ma­jor sup­porter of mo­tor­sport Down Un­der, spread­ing it­self not only across the Su­per­cars main game – its sig­nage ap­pear­ing on the Tick­ford cars – but also on cars com­pet­ing in the New Zealand V8 cham­pi­onship, the Aus­tralian Su­per2 and new Su­per3 de­vel­op­ment cat­e­gories and the For­mula 4 open-wheel class.

Mul­tispares Truck Parts is an­other that is heav­ily in­volved in Aus­tralian mo­tor­sport but not in the premier or sec­ondary cat­e­gories. Rather, it is a ma­jor spon­sor of Ryan Hans­ford’s his­toric Holden To­rana A9X in the Tour­ing Car Masters divi­sion.

Prob­a­bly one of the most un­usual sup­port ven­tures in the cat­e­gory though is that given by Toy­ota’s Hino truck divi­sion, which has de­cided that sup­port­ing the event rather than the player brings the big­gest yield.

Sure, Hino sup­ports the sin­gle-car Pre­ston Hire Rac­ing team but its Hino Hub throws a cor­po­rate blan­ket over the whole cat­e­gory as part of the na­tional tele­cast pack­age.

Fronted by ex­pert com­men­ta­tors Mark Larkham and Neil Cromp­ton, the Hub gives Fox­tel and Net­work Ten view­ers tech­ni­cal ex­pla­na­tions and sta­tis­ti­cal up­dates dur­ing tele­casts.

Hino, which has been part of Su­per­cars since 2016, re­cently signed on with the se­ries for an­other three years with a guar­an­tee of in­creased sup­port by adding the role of of­fi­cial Su­per­cars Tow Ve­hi­cle sup­plier to its al­ready com­pre­hen­sive arse­nal.

Bill Gille­spie, Hino Aus­tralia’s gen­eral man­ager of brand and fran­chise de­vel­op­ment, says the com­pany’s ex­ten­sive in­volve­ment with high-pro­file mo­tor­sport not only gen­er­ates brand ex­po­sure but also in­creases its dealer net­work and cus­tomer base en­gage­ment.

“We credit the Su­per­car in­volve­ment with de­liv­er­ing a level of brand and dealer en­gage­ment that has been a key fac­tor in strength­en­ing our sta­tus as the fastest-grow­ing truck brand in Aus­tralia,” Gille­spie said.

For its part In­ter­na­tional, through Iveco, has been as­so­ci­ated with Roland Dane’s Triple Eight Race En­gi­neer­ing out­fit since

PHO­TOS: CON­TRIB­UTED

SUC­CESS STORY: Hino has been part of Su­per­cars since 2016 and re­cently signed on for an­other three years.

Trans­porters wait in the pad­dock at a race meet­ing.

IVECO is a ma­jor player in su­per­cars.

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