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The sport started in the United States at the Atlanta Motor Speedway on June 17, 1979 and was the opening scene in the movie Smokey and the Bandit II. As a sanctioned sport it began as ATRA (American Truck Racing Association) in 1979 then was sold to N. Linn Henndershott in 1982 and it became the Great American Truck Racing circuit. The races were run on dirt and paved ovals mostly in the Eastern United States. The trucks used in the beginning were actually working trucks with tandem rear axles and used street tires yet still attained speeds of 150 mph (241 km/h) on the front straight at Pocono Raceway and set the closed course record of 132 mph (212 km/h) in qualifying at Texas World Speedway by Charlie Baker on March 21, 1982. Most of its popularity early on came from the movie Smokey and the Bandit
After 1986 when the series was bought by Glenn Donnelly of DIRT (Drivers Independent Race Tracks) the GATR trucks became highly modified with the bodies being cut and lowered, losing the tag axle and shedding more than 2,000 pounds in weight. The last sanctioned GATR race in the US was in July 1993 at Rolling Wheels NY.
In England, however, in the last few years the profile of truck racing has increased, and currently over 30 teams regularly compete. The sporting regulations came under the control of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) later, to ensure that the vehicles conform to the layout and original style of the truck, whilst defining the safety standards required to race.
Maximum race speed is restricted to 160 km/h (100 mph) for safety reasons, and a minimum weight limit is 5500 kg. Races start from a rolling start, and commonly races last from 8 to 12 laps. Although a non contact sport, due to the physical size, and closeness of trucks to one another during races, minor collisions can often occur. However, injuries to drivers are very rare.
Unlike other forms of motor sport, race trucks look like their road-going counterparts and conform to regulations to ensure that major components used are the same.
All drivers must hold a race licence issued by the Motor Sports Association, or the national motorsport body from the driver's country.
The makes of truck currently represented in truck racing cover most of the common marques over the last 20 years.
The regulations allow for trucks to compete in two classes, so trucks with less sophisticated engine management systems, suspension, and braking systems can compete effectively.
The organising body for truck racing in the United Kingdom is the British Truck Racing Association founded in 1984. The British Championships and race events are organised by the British Automobile Racing Club.
The FIA European Truck Racing Championship was created in 1985.
Race truck manufacturers
Provisional Dates for the 2013 British Truck Racing Association Championship are as follows:
- 6 Apr 2013 - Pembrey
- 7 Apr 2013 - Pembrey
- 20 Apr 2013 - Brands Hatch
- 21 Apr 2013 - Brands Hatch
- 29 Jun 2013 - Nürburgring
- 30 Jun 2013 - Nürburgring
- 1 Jun 2013 - Thruxton
- 2 Jun 2013 - Thruxton
- 17 Aug 2013 - Donington
- 18 Aug 2013 - Donington
- 25 Aug 2013 - Snetterton
- 26 Aug 2013 - Snetterton
- 19 Oct 2013 - Pembrey
- 20 Oct 2013 - Pembrey
- 2 Nov 2013 - Brands Hatch
- 3 Nov 2013 - Brands Hatch