Features & Interviews

Driving ambition: How truck racing provides a marketing platform for firms

11 August 2022 #Features & Interviews

The British Truck Racing Championship is a thrilling series which sees drivers in tractor units compete at speeds of 100mph around some of the best racing circuits in the UK.

A total of 20 racing trucks, weighing more than five tonnes and producing in excess of 1,000 hp, take part over seven weekends at top circuits like Brands Hatch, Donington Park, Pembrey, Snetterton and Thruxton.

However, it also provides an important marketing opportunity, a chance to network and a test arena for commercial vehicle manufacturers and suppliers.

MV Commercial uses the platform provided by the championship to promote its brand and that of sister company, trailer manufacturer Fruehauf.

Earlier this year, its MAN racing truck featured prominently on TV’s Top Gear, in an episode which demonstrated how the excitement generated by truck racing can encourage much needed new drivers to join the industry.

Tom O’Rourke, CEO at MV Commercial, said: “When we got the opportunity to sponsor the championship, I thought we could bring a lot to it.

“We’ve covered the truck festivals for many years, we have a hospitality facility and we bring half a dozen ready to go trucks and we try and hire them and sell them – that’s our business.

“It’s a brilliant way to meet our customers nationally. It is an informal, entertaining environment where mobile phones aren’t ringing all day and it has worked really well for us.”

The championship is split into two sections: Division 1 includes the most advanced machines that have bespoke braking and suspension systems, while Division 2 features more production-based machines.

Dave Jenkins, who races a MAN TGX in the championship, also runs a commercial vehicle workshop during the week in Stone, Staffordshire.

His sponsorship arrangement with Morris Lubricants means he is an ambassador for its range of commercial vehicle oils, lubricants and greases that covers a wide range of makes and models.

According to Jenkins, following each track session during a competition weekend, the mechanics replenish the vehicle’s power steering fluid with the lubricants provided by the sponsor to enhance performance of the high-pressure power steering system.

Jenkins said: “This is one of the most stressed components in the truck, so changing and topping up the power steering fluid is critical.

“Specialist oils from Morris Lubricants, such as gearbox and differential oil, can cope with the stresses of a competitive setting, which can include extreme temperatures and loads, because they’re made for it.”

Jenkins said the checks and procedures carried out during the service of an HGV for the road are the same as those required to keep his racing MAN in peak condition.

However, the nature of the lubrication technology working trucks require is instead tailored to fuel efficiency and extended service.

“The correct specification of engine oil is critical to the longevity of a truck’s engine and emissions control components,” Jenkins said.

“If you put the wrong engine oil in the wrong lorry, the cost of repair can run to tens of thousands of pounds.”

Three of the races coincide with popular family events – Convoy Cymru, Convoy on the Plain and Convoy in the Park – which feature manufacturer and exhibitor displays plus stunt shows, live music and children’s entertainment.

TRP, which offers all makes truck and trailer parts in the UK, is also the official parts provider for the championship, supplying replacement parts at competitive terms to all the British teams.

Meanwhile, Reid Freight’s Iveco EuroCargo was hand-built at the company’s depot in Stoke-on-Trent, and supplied with parts and expertise from Guest Truck and Van’s local Sherwood Truck and Van branch, along with other local engineers.

Brothers Craig and Simon Reid, who race the trucks and both work at the family business, have also secured sponsorship from Autobrite cleaning products and accessories.

Rob Spittle, Managing Director at Guest Truck and Van, said: “For us, the sponsorship isn’t just about money, it’s about the collaboration, involvement of our team and the thrill of racing.

“There’s something exciting about seeing a truck in the Guest and Sherwood livery out there competing with some much bigger teams and knowing that it’s because of a collaboration of local businesses working together that has made it happen.”

VisionTrack is the official video telematics provider to the series and provides footage for broadcast from all the race trucks competing in the series using its VT3000 AI dashcams along with a rear-view camera.

Race officials are able to access a substream feed that can download footage within seconds to speed-up in-race investigations.

This works alongside livestream video from each truck that assists with the management of on/off track race compliance, while HD video is also available during and post-race for livestream broadcasting, media clips and a TV highlights programme.

Dean Leonard, Head of Technical Service Delivery at VisionTrack, said the combination of forward and rear facing cameras ensures they get the best angles in a timeframe that allows decisions to be made in the heat of the race day.

“Our advanced solution is again helping Truck Sport UK to maintain the highest levels of race safety, while providing action-packed content that will attract new fans to this exciting motorsport”, he added.

For 2022 Giti Tire has retained its role as the championship’s Official Tyre Partner, meaning its Race-Tuned v1 global competition truck tyres in size 315/70R22.5 are fitted on all the trucks.

The manufacturer has two fully liveried trucks in all races with Team Oliver, driven by Stuart Oliver and his son, Michael Oliver.

Tony McHugh, TBR Sales and Marketing Director UK at Giti Tire, said becoming the exclusive tyre supplier to the series has been a massive boost for the brand.

He added: “As well as all the excellent marketing and social media opportunities it represents, we know that many of the teams find themselves working day-to-day in the transport sector.

“Once they’ve experienced the Giti Race-Tuned v1, they doubtless want to know more about the truck and bus portfolio.”

As long as the championship continues to provide an excellent opportunity for commercial vehicle suppliers, manufacturers and dealers to market and test their products, the series should continue to thrive.

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