Road Racing Rigs
The Tonka Super Truck Racing Series is governed by the Super Truck Racing Series of North America (STRANA), which was founded in 2001.
People who buy automobiles off the showroom floor can relate to NASCAR racing. Those who spend their drive time in pickup trucks also have kindred spirits in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
And now big rig wheelmen have a racing series to call their own, thanks to the Tonka Super Truck Racing Series.
The circuit, which held the Tonka Super Truck Celebrity Challenge this year, features Class 8 tractors running, spinning and passing on road courses throughout the United States and Canada. Modeled after the popular European Truck Racing Series, the new kid on the motorsports block hopes to present North American fans with an exciting combination of speed and power.
However, it is also a marketing tool for the trucking industry. Billing the series with the mantra “As Big As Racing Gets,” the organization offers primary sponsorship of a truck ($200,000), event naming and a private hospitality tent for 50 VIPs ($50,000), associate sponsorship of a truck ($35,000) and official supplier/corporate sponsorships ($10,000-$20,000).
“About three years ago we started working with a German company that was looking for marketing opportunities,” says Craig Lerner, co-founder of the Tonka Super Truck Series, which is governed by the Super Truck Racing Association of North America (STRANA). “We were concentrating on heavy duty truck marketing, and they clued us in on how popular this kind of racing was in Europe.
“The more I heard about it the more I liked the idea, and I finally said, ‘We can do that here.’ I saw most of my associates’ jaws drop, but I really thought we had a chance to make a go of it.”
The creation of STRANA was announced in March 2001, and the organization conducted its first test sessions three months later at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The event was covered by ESPN’s “RPM2Night” program.
“When we first started, we realized we’d run into some brick walls,” Lerner says. “And we knew in order to be successful we had to have television. Any time you want to create a brand new sport and get it on television it’s tough, but it’s amazing how quickly people warmed to it.”
By August 2001, STRANA reached a sanctioning agreement with the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), which gave the fledgling series instant credibility.
“That was a huge boost for us,” Lerner says. “And I think the main thing that helped us was there is no parity out there. We’re not competing with stock cars or open wheels; there’s nothing else like it in North America.
“We look at truckers as the last American cowboys, and we really felt strongly that by bringing races involving these machines to this country, it could really become successful.”