If you feel that your career is ready for the next step, and traveling to multiple tracks and racing on more than just the local level is what you seek, then the ASA Speed Truck Challenge may be just the change you are seeking. Sanctioned by the American Speed Association, Speed Trucks are essentially a semi-professional racing series, with a national television package and all the close competition you can handle.
Speed Trucks offer racers a broad forum to showcase their racing skills on a variety of tracks in the Southwest. The series visits the Bullring in Las Vegas, the mile at Phoenix International Raceway, Tucson Raceway Park in Arizona, Irwindale Speedway in Southern California, and other pavement tracks in the area. There is even a road course or two thrown in for some variety.
Of course, stock cars under the ASA sanction are where many of today's NASCAR stars first planted their roots, including drivers such as Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace, the late Alan Kulwicki, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Johnny Benson, and Kenny Wallace.
Being only 9 years old, the ASA Speed Truck Challenge series is relatively new. The majority of the growing pains associated with a new racing series are now essentially history, though. The series is still growing and adding new drivers on a monthly basis. The good news is that more people are being added to the series than are leaving.
Spec SeriesJust what is an ASA Speed Truck? It is a full-tilt racing truck. With the fiberglass body removed, it looks very much like a NASCAR Southwest Tour car. The Speed Truck is a "spec series" vehicle. Every effort is made to make the trucks as equal as possible. The chassis is only available from one source-Speed Truck Challenge. The manufacturer is Rich's Motorsports.
There are currently six different bodies available: Chevy S-10, Ford Ranger, Dodge Dakota, GMC Sonoma, Toyota Tacoma, and Nissan Frontier. The spec chassis is an attempt to make the truck simpler and more economic to race, and it creates as level a playing field as possible. A quick review of the rules for this series finds that they have been formulated to make the trucks very similar in many different areas to other types of stock car chassis. In fact, the rules are posted on the Speed Truck Web site as a PDF file downloadable by anyone wishing to read them.
From the front to the rear suspensions, there are not many areas open to interpretation that are not covered by the rules. The rules are very quick to point out what can and what can't be done. The sources for many of the consumable parts-tires, engines, and shocks, for example-are spelled out in the rule book. Many of the consumables are available only from a single supplier. This does not mean there is nothing for the sharp tuner to accomplish. The opposite is true. There is still plenty of opportunity to develop setups and work on making the truck turn, drive, and race better.
Front and rear suspensions consist of standard coilover shocks at all four corners. The front has a double A-arm, and at the rear a Speedway Engineering quick-change with an aluminum spool is required, with no lockers or limited-slip differentials allowed. It's not overly complex but very similar in many ways to other cars in multiple series around the country. This means that many of the things you learn in the Speed Truck Series will be transferable to other series. There is a huge data bank of knowledge available from many different sources for this type of suspension. The Speed Truck rule makers were very careful to not try and reinvent the wheel when the rules and specifications for this truck were developed. They have succeeded in developing a real race truck.
The EngineThe engine is a GM Vortec crate engine. It can be obtained from just one source-Van Gordon Racing Engines. Jim Van Gordon supplies the new engines and also performs all of the major overhaul work. Jim is a very approachable individual and very open with the information about this engine and the process for race preparation.
A new engine goes through a very specific and well-defined process prior to being sold and delivered to the racer. This work is aimed more at durability than all-out performance. The engine is rated at 330 hp in the GM crate. After it is prepared, the engine puts out from 350 to 365 hp. It utilizes a two-barrel Holley carburetor. You are allowed to work on the carburetor, but the throttle bores, throttle shaft, throttle body, and butterfly plates must remain stock as when Holley made the carburetor. This is done to prevent tricked out and highly expensive aftermarket carburetors from becoming the norm.
Conversations with numerous competitors in the series revealed that the engines are fairly reliable. It is not uncommon for one to last two years with minimal service. Please do not read that as "no service required!" This is still an engine used in a racing vehicle, and it will require some service between races. Research revealed many of the top teams replace or rebuild their engines on a more frequent schedule than the recommended norm. There are failures, as with any racing engine, but the failures are few. With attention, recommended service, and rpm limits observed, the engines are fairly durable. This is not a maintenance-free deal, though. The valvesprings should be replaced at regular intervals. The faster teams avoid running the engines over a year without an overhaul. Some teams just sell their old engine that may be ready for overhaul and use the funds from the sale of the used engine to help purchase a brand-new engine each season. Not a bad plan.
Many of the failures are attributed to the racers trying to push the engines past the recommended rpm limits. There's a surprise-racers pushing the envelope. They have a good spec engine that has good durability and performance. However, if you push it past the suggested rpm levels, you are at risk.
Drivers are currently traveling from six different states to compete in this series. There is no lack of competition or lack of diversity in the fields.
So, now that you know what and where, the next step is how. If you are really serious about the possibility of racing in this series, there are multiple teams that will allow you to rent a test in the Speed Trucks to see if you really want to go down this path. You can even go straight to the Speed Truck manufacturer, Rich's Motorsports, and arrange for a test drive. This is no free ride, but the cost is very reasonable, and it may even be negotiable; you never know until you ask.
It makes a great deal of economic sense to try this type of racing vehicle prior to jumping in with both feet and discovering that it is not what you want to do or it is more than you are ready for at this time in your racing career.
The racers in the series are very approachable and are more than willing to share their opinions and positions on the series. There is a Web site for the series and a complete list of drivers, sponsors, and contact information. We suggest you check it out.
The cost of racing an ASA Speed Truck Now, the big question: What does it cost to play?
A brand-new truck that is ready to race will cost from $38,000 to $44,000, depending on options such as seats, upgrades in safety equipment, and some other non-performance-enhancing options.
The cost to campaign the truck runs from a low of $1,400 to a high of $2,500 per race. The variability in the cost will have to do with the distance you have to travel and the duration of your stay. This assumes no major crash damage that will require extensive repair.
As the body is fiberglass, the replacement body parts are fairly reasonable.
A complete body will run in the $1,200 range.
Used trucks are available, and the costs range from $20,000 to over $50,000, depending on the amount of spares, support equipment, and general condition of the truck.
Costs for a whole race season will range from $24,000 to $30,000. This range does not include crash damage, nor does it include any fees or costs associated with test sessions.
On the plus side of the equation, the prize and contingency monies do a good bit to offset the costs required to campaign the truck.
Each race is televised on the Outdoor Life Network (OLN). This goes a long way to giving a sponsorship package real value to you and your sponsor. This series is reaching nearly 30 million homes each week through the television broadcasts on OLN. The races are repeated several times, so your sponsor has the ability to get exposure multiple times.