Two wheels to 18
A ride along with Jeff Ward Racing Supercross team transporter driver Loren Lowry
When Loren Lowry got his CDL in 1990 to haul for Washington, D.C.-area beer distributors, he couldn’t have predicted his destiny in trucking lay on the long-haul highway. It could have been more predictable, however, that his long-haul work would be as part of one of the 46-year-old’s passions from an early age. Lowry has raced off-road motorcycles “since I was 11 years old,” he says. He was on the East Coast circuit through 2001, when he began a transition from the bike seat into a more comfortable, fitting one behind the wheel of a race team transporter.
Today, he steers a 2007 Peterbilt 387 and UltraComp custom trailer as the transporter driver for the Jeff Ward Racing team, named for a seven-time season champion. “He was the man for a long time,” says Lowry of Ward. “I used to watch him a lot.”
In 2001, leading up to what would be his last pro race, Lowry was at a qualifier in New York when he met the KTM factory team manager and expressed interest in becoming a transporter driver. He drove with that team for four years, before moving to Fairmont, West Virginia, in 2006 when he took the hauling job for then L&M Racing. L&M merged with Jeff Ward’s and several other outfits last year. (Lowry is also owner and manager of a Line-X protective coatings franchise in Fairmont.)
Lowry has witnessed spectacular national racing success with L&M, which claimed Supercross championships in both 2008 and 2009. This year, he’s hauling gear for two Supercross racers — Josh Grant and Kyle Chisholm, both new to the young team.
Lowry says he’s experienced no small dose of satisfaction from trucking the team’s equipment cross-country as a transporter. “Truck driving is one of the best jobs I’ve had,” he says. “You’re directly involved in what you’re doing. It feels like the best thing for me: All of us take pride in what we’re driving no matter what it is — we polish the wheels, wash the truck every week. There’s a lot of nice trucks in the circuit.”
Look for his rig at the truckstop, he says. “We’re normal just like any over-the-road guys at the truckstops. We know all the good restaurants.”
A week at the track
On the Supercross circuit, a trucker’s life is much like any other’s “until we get to town,” says Loren Lowry. “Then we’re getting ready for the race,” mostly at indoor or open-stadium races held on Saturdays January through May.
On arrival day, which could range from Sunday to Thursday, team transporter drivers are often responsible for at-track duties:
• Cooking, once the mechanics fly in on Thursday to build the competing bike. “These trucks carry supplies for everything to build bikes from the frame up,” says Lowry.
• Building. “I’ve helped build bikes,” says Lowry. “We pull them all the way down and put them back together. That way you’re going through everything and replacing parts as needed.”