Motor Sports

Big Rig Racers Bring Thrills, Spills, Backups and Jackups

As a service, I’d like to provide a timely tip for your next big road trip. A few years ago, I drove my sporty Honda Prelude from San Diego to North Carolina. I thought it might be a boring drive, especially without a CD or tape deck, but was I ever wrong!! With the big rigs as entertainment, the miles just flew by. Here is an overview of America’s latest thrill sport: Big Rig Truck Racing.

Monster backup on I-75 + no serious injuries = bonus points. Good show!

Truck drivers, often referred to as “Knights of the Road,” are conducting incredible competitions on our interstate highways. These races are held 24/7, but weekday daylight hours offer the keenest competition and best viewing for fans. Drivers make arrangements for individual races, which may last days or even weeks. They need only agree on point totals and time limits. Here are some scoring guidelines used when they set up a race:

Scoring Event Point Value*
First racer to check in at the motel after making their miles for the day 10 to 15
Scaring the beejesus out of a compact driver 2
Scaring the dickens out of an SUV driver 3
Blowing a Winnebego into the breakdown lane 5
Lane change with 1 wheel lift (off pavement) 4
Road kill (animals only–no pedestrians) 1 pt. per 10 lbs.
Highway shutdowns** 1 to 25

*All racers are subject to penalties or disqualification may result when hazardous material spills, death, dismemberment, or serious injuries occur.
** Extra points for rush hour backups, etc.-see association website for full details

Action photos explain strategies and results

Sorry, no points are awarded for stopping trains–that’s just too easy (no penalty was assessed, since this rig was loaded with CO2.

Nice tipover, but poor placement–traffic is flowing well, so zero points!!

A fire can result in a high score for the day (most drivers slip into their Nomex jumpsuits first) but the real pros dismiss it as “showing off”.

Cooperation with Law Enforcement is Key

Through special arrangements with state and federal law enforcement agencies, these 30 ton (60,000+ pounds) behemoths careen across the roadways at 10 to 25 MPH above all posted speed limits.

Apparently this lawman didn’t get the memo about the races that day!

It pays to allow an extra day or two for your travel, keep your tank half-full and your bladder empty, but the entertainment value will be well worth it. Thanks to the dedicated people of the local emergency services, even the occasional miscue (actually “points earned” in most situations) only results in a small section of interstate being shutdown. After this real-life adventure, Disney World will be a real yawner for the whole family.

You won’t be on the road long before you see one of the magnificent special formations (once upon-a-time, they were know as “convoys”) of 8 or more trucks, separated by 10-12 ft. gaps. To witness such precision driving is one of the true wonders of cross country car travel. If you’re really lucky, you might see a rare running of the “double-wide” or “oversize” divisions (including houses, construction cranes and earthmovers, all secured on trailers with iddy-biddy wheels).

This oversize load took the “back way” and didn’t score any points!

Cars Always Welcome

Passenger vehicles are invited to participate, but unless you enter a formal arrangement with the rig drivers, your personal sense of accomplishment will be the only reward. The Knights of the Road politely pull over to let you enter the track. But remember, once you drop into lane 1, at slightly above the speed limit, you’re in the race! Opting out is simple. If you don’t want to play, just go 5-10 MPH under the limit, look dumb, and hope you can tag along with a semi traveling the legal limit, which will act as a sort of “blocker.” Also, a St. Francis medal or two wouldn’t hurt! But seriously, here is the list of recommended equipment:

  • Tires should be rated for 110 MPH (minimum)

  • Full roll cage for passengers

  • Side & front airbags (Helmets recommended)

  • Car insurance is paid-up

  • Blindfolds for “nervous Nellie” passengers

  • (Asthmatics) Inhaler handy (some stretches of the track can leave you breathless with excitement)

  • Heart medication handy AND have a back-up driver to grab the wheel, “just in case.” (you won’t have to wait long for HEART POUNDING THRILLS!)

  • Nomex outfits for driver (& important passengers)

This driver squandered the obvious handling and speed advantages of the Porsche Boxster. At least they had an airbag!

Watchout for the Wildcards!!

Watch out for the Wild Card Handicap! Since you can out-run and out-maneuver a semi, you would might think, “I’m a sure winner. ” However, without the pre-arranged agreements with law enforcement that the truckers enjoy, you might find your superior speed and maneuverability (usually-see photo above) are neutralized by frequent pull-overs by ambitious state troopers. Or maybe you’ll be intimidated by the sheer size of the trucks! Just think of it as a form of handicapping that will add to the thrill of competition.
GOOD LUCK…and don’t forget to BUCKLE UP!