NEW CONTENDER: Fletcher Christian.
NEW CONTENDER: Fletcher Christian. Ian Lee

Nationals turn up the heat

IT'S early morning at Wakefield Park Raceway, and it's pretty damn cold.

Swarms of hatchbacks circle the track, sounding off with a high RPM and the blast of exhaust as they downshift into turns.

Somewhere in the pits a rumble occurs, and suddenly it looks like the pits have caught fire.

Plumes of black smoke fill the air as a fleet of high powered commercial vehicles crank over their heavily modified engines, and slowly power their way towards the starting line-up.

They are here for the first round of the Inaugural 2014 Hi-Tec Oil Super Truck Nationals, to continue a tradition that is almost a quarter of a century old.

They are here to show that trucks can haul more than freight.

Running four rounds this year, alternating between Wakefield Park and Winton Raceway, the Super Truck Nationals' first round takes place in the rural setting just outside Goulburn.

Trucks ranging from 500hp up to 1200hp are vying for championship points, and the crowd ends up the winners.

Weighing up to six-and-a-half tonnes, the trucks were to be pushed to the limits as these drivers throw these monsters into corners at speeds most of us wouldn't believe possible.

Just shy of 25 years of lining up on the grid, the Super Truck series is a true show of brute power.

Going from strength to strength, the participants are a special breed, some might say crazy.

To carry out racing in these machines, the trucks are a far cry from when they were road-going freight haulers.

With full roll cages and brake systems donated by V8 Supercars, the trucks are as safe as they are fast, but it still takes a special breed of racing driver to undertake the task of steering one.

Take Barry Butwell for instance.

Starting out in racing over two decades ago, Barry is on his first outing this weekend after taking a break from the track.

Bringing his 'new' Mack Superliner, the rig is on its first outing as well, after being built from the chassis up.

This first round is being used to set up the handling, with a view to wind up the power once the ride and reliability have been assured.

The big red truck runs an E6 Mack motor running power through an Allison Auto transmission, out to a Scania 3.5 ratio diff.

Running reliably all weekend, the truck is now ready to bring out the big power for the next round at Winton.

Saturday's qualifying saw Steven Zammit take the pole position, and follow it up with a win in the first round race on the Saturday.

However, tragedy struck on Sunday morning during the warm-up with the purple Kenworth having to bow out of the round, suffering from an aerated block.

Jumping on this opportunity, Paul Reyntjes took out the second round with the 'just run in' Cat motor in his Volvo, bringing it home strong.

The final two races on Sunday were taken out by Frank Amoroso of Fate racing, pushing the Kenworth hard to win not only the races, but the round honours as well.

Australian National Truck Racing Association president Charlie Zammit was happy with the results from the weekend.

The rumble of the ground, the squeal of red hot drum brakes trying to slow 6.5 tonnes from 160kmh, the faint smell of oil fumes as the spectators wait for the trucks to come around again, it's worth every dollar.

The next meet is in Victoria at Winton Raceway on July 5-6.

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