Let’s face it: truck driving in India is a pretty unnerving experience, more so for a novice. Talk about trucking and there’s a very little chance of the conversation going past delivery deadlines, uncomfortable sleeping arrangements and unforgiving motorists. However, there’s also a bright and cheerful side to this dark reality which goes by the name of truck racing. To us Indians, it’s a relatively new concept which involves the trucks (albeit of a different kind) and their drivers (again, not your average Joe or err… Joginder) going all out on a race track.
Now, truck racing has been listed regularly on the motorsport calendar since the 80s and has drawn crowds across the globe that have all flocked to witness such mammoths battle it out. But it’s only in the last few years that the profile of the sport has enjoyed a serious rise in viewership and followers, thanks mainly to major championships like the FIA European Truck Racing Championship and the British Truck Racing Championship.
Looking to replicate some of this success, Tata Motors recently brought this sport to India with the T1 Prima Truck Racing Championship. Introduced under the aegis of FIA and FMSCI, this brand new sport conquered some new territory last weekend (March 22/23) – with the heavyweights of motorsport attacking the Buddh International Circuit for the very first time.
The 5.1 kilometre-long circuit made for a happy hunting ground for the 12 drivers and their race-prepped trucks that had been modified based on the guidelines set by the British Truck Racing Association. Furthermore, the machines were certified by FMSCI after having undergone a string of security checks. All in all, it was revealed that a total of 22 key modifications were made to make the Prima trucks fit for the race weekend. And it was not only racing liveries of the respective teams that were on to the trucks, Tata made some serious upgrades to the fuel tank and the brake cooling system. Additionally, the trucks were fitted with propeller shaft guards, racing seats, racing steering wheel and a different exhaust system.
Pretty much like the other forms of track-based motorsports, the T1 Prima Championship was split into practice and two races over the weekend - a 5-lap sprint race and a 15-lap main race. The award for the champion driver was given to the winning driver on the basis of combined points from both the races.
The first of the two races – a 5-lap sprint race, started with all the six teams namely Castrol Vecton, Cummins, Tata Technology Motorsports, Dealer Warriors, Dealer Daredevils and Allied Partners, all lining up for the rolling start and raring to go. As it turned out, the short sprint race proved to be a treat for thousands of spectators who cheered on throughout the five laps. Naturally, the modified trucks deployed on the track played a starring role in the visual treat.
Speaking of which, all the teams were seen racing the Prima 4038.S models putting out around 370bhp and a mahoosive 1550Nm of torque. However, what’s even more impressive is the way how all of this torque is transferred to the rear wheels. In this case, the 6.7-litre six engine delivers all of its torque between 1200 and 1400rpm, thereby making for a rather spiky power delivery at the lower end of the rev range.
The second race seemed apt to be a real thriller and a real test of endurance too as it ran to 15 laps of the short loop of the stunning BIC. The sight of these mega trucks going all out right from the rolling start till the chequered flag after 45 minutes of heroic overtaking, exchanging paint and hitting the apexes was enough to set the crowd’s pulse racing. It all ended with Stuart Oliver of Castrol Vecton taking the chequered flag and winning the debut championship. The winning team Castrol Vecton was followed by Team Cummins and Team Tata Technologies Motor Sports in the final team points standings.
Now that truck racing has made its mark in India, the spectacle is sure to mark another small step forward for Indian motorsports as the nation increasingly asserts itself on the global motor-racing scene. But despite these efforts, I would still maintain that watching a series of upgraded trucks race at moderate speeds is barely a match for some of the more hardcore forms of motorsports. Sure, you do get the thrills when looking at big, heavy machinery fishtailing, shedding rubber and braking at the absolute limit of grip, however, consider the level of sophistication truck racing lacks in terms of aerodynamics and mechanical grip and you will soon begin to realise how competitive this sport can really get.