The road that led OOIDA Member Mike Morgan to the points championship of the inaugural Meritor ChampTruck racing series had more twists and turns than the typical racetrack.
A diesel technician at the Mack of Nashville dealership by day, the Wartrace, Tenn., native spent his off time spec’ing and racing his very own “big, black Mack” during the Meritor-sponsored Class 8 diesel truck race series. His handle, “88 Mike” is a nod to the military term for truck driver, which he chose in tribute to his family members and friends who have served in the armed forces, and for his favorite NASCAR driver, Dale Jarrett, now retired.
The championship race was held at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Oct. 30-Nov. 1. Going into the final weekend, Morgan was in a three-way battle for championship with small fleet owner Allen Boles’ Jupiter Motorsports and Hungarian racer Krisztian Szabo’s Truck Race Team USA for first place.
“The points race was up for grabs for sure, but we went out with a game plan to get pole position,” he said. “I figured if we could get pole position, we could get out front and we could hold it. We had a fast truck and we just wanted to keep it there (in front).”
Morgan won the first race of the season in April at New Jersey Motorsports Park, and consistently finished around the top five throughout the season’s other eight races. In addition to winning the series on driver points, his team, Power Shift Racing, finished first on the team leaderboard.
According to the race’s website, ChampTruck is open to 2-axle (single-drive axle), Class-8 tractors with commercially available diesel engines (10-15 liters) and manual transmissions.
In order to compete, all trucks must be at least five years old. Trucks are not allowed to be highly modified. However, comprehensive safety systems, including a full-cab roll cage, competition containment seat, 5-point racing seatbelt harness, fire suppression system and safety fuel cell, are required.
Morgan hopes to continue racing in 2016, if he can get some more sponsorship. His 2015 sponsors include Winrock Truck Parts, Bosselman Truck Shops FinditParts, and Steve Nash Trucking.
“I’m a technician by trade; I work for a living 40 hours a week,” he said. “We took out some loans to get through this whole year. Halfway through the season, we were still winning, even though we didn’t really have the money coming in from sponsors. Our team had a lot of heart. We had a lot of belief that we could make it to the end of the season on top.”
The ChampTrucks are speed-limited to 100 mph for safety, but Morgan says the key is how fast you can get there.
“Everybody says ‘How much horsepower you got,’ but it’s not the horsepower; it’s the torque,” he said. “That’s the part that takes you and puts you out front. I could care less about the horsepower.”
The racing series “fills a need” in the American trucking industry.
“This is one of those things that America is missing,” he said. “There’s a lot of need for the business. … It’s a huge resource that could be tapped into, for the advertising market for everybody… You look at TRO truck racing in Europe and it’s bigger than NASCAR.”
The 2016 ChampTruck racing series kicks off April 8-9, 2016, at the Palm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, Fla.
“I think the series has nowhere to go but up right now,” he said. “Everybody on the outside looking in is going, ‘Man, that’s pretty cool. You guys are driving big rigs and they’re as fast as sports cars on the track.”
More information about the Meritor ChampTruck World Series can be found online at champtruck.us.com. More information about Mike Morgan’s racing team can be found at powershiftperformance.com/