Tires slinging mud and smoke, engines spinning at their limits, stacks spewing great black clouds of dust and flames, and massive crowds cheering, the first ever Onaway Speedway Great Lakes Big Rig Challenge was a success. The event included a Quebec style drag race and a show n’ shine for the trailer queens. The freshly built track was an 1/8th mile uphill run. Driver’s would be pulling over 60,000 pounds of lumber up the incline to the finish. It’s safe to say most of the spectators and participants had a marvelous time despite some difficult conditions.
The weather was quite a challenge. A cold front Saturday brought with it a heavy downpour for most of the day turning the grounds into a muddy mess. This not only made it difficult for the fans having to trudge through the soupy mess, but the drivers had to navigate a thick muddy pit in order to access the drag strip. Thankfully, Sunday brought the sun and warmth, but mud was still causing traction issues for the drivers. The only solution was massive 8 wheel burnouts to clean off the tires (to the delight of the spectators)
It was fascinating to see a range of different setups competing together on the track. The engine of choice for most participants would be the CAT 6NZ or similar while there were a healthy number of Detroit power plants, both 12.7 and 14 liter. Most of the drivers were running our performance parts on their trucks. Class C trucks were bone stock while the majority of participants were running in class B which allowed minor modifications including a non-stock turbo and Powerbox. Class A contenders were highly modified with turbos peeking through grills and hoods.
Running these trucks at their physical limits means quite a few trucks suffered from mechanical complications. A number of trucks broke driveshafts and U-Joints including Diesel Freak’s white and blue Kenworth. Fortunately, they were able to get the truck fixed for the next day white others were not as lucky. Khaggs Trucking #100 Freightliner suffered from power loss to the ECM on Sunday, ending their day early. The majority of trucks were able to return home under their own power.
In addition to the racing, there was a healthy showing of show trucks on the track oval. Everything from a ‘bagged’ Peterbilt, vintage Kenworths, and even a Smokey and the Bandit tribute truck complete with the stagecoach mural on the trailer. The youngsters enjoyed the carnival rides while the racing fans learned about the cutting edge of truck performance technology from the vendors in the pitts. Many came to look at the display engines and learn about our innovations such as the Dorothy EGR cleaner and see our selection of performance oriented exhaust manifolds, mufflers, and turbos. We look forward to the return of the Great Lakes Big Rig Challenge in 2019 and hope to see similar events around the US in the coming years.
Many of the articles compiled here where written by Bruce Mallinson. Attribution to other contributors is given in the specific articles.