As I was driving to my next Airbnb stop in Grayland, Washington on Monday I saw a truck parked next to the highway with this race vehicle on it:
This immediately brought me back in time to 1984 when I attended a “big rig” race at Pocono International Raceway, near where I lived in eastern Pennsylvania. Known today as simply Pocono Raceway, the track now hosts two NASCAR stock car races each year as well as an open-wheel IndyCar race. Well, back in the 80’s someone got the bright idea to race trucks. BIG trucks. These were not the full-size pickup truck facsimiles which compete in the NASCAR Camping World truck series today. These were every-day trucks (the tractor part of tractor-trailer, a common term for 18-wheelers you see on the highway).
While exciting to watch, the race at Pocono brought several safety issues to light and the days of these trucks racing on large, fast tracks like Pocono were short-lived. In one accident at Pocono a truck went through the boilerplate wall in Turn 1. Not over it, like race cars occasionally do, THROUGH it. This actually made officials realize that the low, concrete walls in the pit road area and in front of safety vehicles around the track would be no match for these tall, very heavy trucks traveling at high speed.
I haven’t kept up with “big rig” racing but evidently it still goes on at small tracks, where speeds aren’t as great. I would still be concerned about public and track worker safety and don’t think I’ll be attending one any time soon…