Wednesday, April 6, 2016

ChampTruck's '88 Mike' seeking sponsors for return to Victory Lane

OOIDA member Mike "88 Mike" Morgan, the 2015 ChampTruck Racing Series champion with his newest fan, 10-year-old Douglas Wood, son of fellow OOIDA member Robert Wood, of Centreville, Mich.
You’d think the toughest challenge for the inaugural ChampTruck racing series champion Mike “88
Mike” Morgan would’ve been winning the championship itself, without the backing of high-level corporate sponsorship.

But if he wants to repeat as champion in 2016, he’s going to once again have to do so without the deep pockets so many of his competitors have at their disposal.

Appearing at the Bosselman Truck Shops booth at the Mid-America Trucking Show on Thursday and Friday, Morgan spoke about how he hopes to continue racing in 2016, if he can get some more sponsorship. Bosselman Truck Shops sponsored him for a portion of the 2015 racing season.

“I think we’re going to take it by storm again, we just need to get a little help back behind us,” he said. “I can’t sneak up on anybody this year, but I’m just gonna drive by them. We’re gonna blow the doors off.”

An OOIDA member from Wartrace, Tenn., Morgan is a diesel technician at the Mack of Nashville dealership by day. He uses his off time to spec and race his very own big, black Mack, dubbed “Mack Vader” by his son Mikey. 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.

“We’re fighting for sponsorship,” he said. “I have two independent owner-operators who are going to help us out for the first race. From there forward, I’m not sure what we’re going to do.”


Morgan said in addition to signing autographs and posing for pictures with fans, he spent a good portion of his time at MATS meeting with potential sponsors.

“(Last year) we kept making a little bit of movement all year,” he said. “We had a little bit of forward momentum from winning that first race. We just always seemed to have enough to make it to the next race. We’re going to do our best to try and do the same thing next year.”

The 2016 season of the Meritor ChampTruck World Series kicks off April 9 and 10 at Palm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, Fla. 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.

From a budget standpoint, Morgan says competing at a high level in the racing series takes a lot.

“Number one, you’ve got to have a good driver; you’ve got to have a good truck, and we worked on sorting our truck out all year. And you’ve got to have a whole bag full of luck on top of it,” he said. “We proved the point last year that dollars don’t necessarily win the race. Our ‘barnyard build’ took us to the finish line.”

One of the biggest expenses for a team is tires. Morgan said the team has to buy a minimum of two for each race.

He said his expectations for the 2016 include the weight of having “a big target on our backs” after last year’s victory.

“There’s a lot of teams this year. So not only do I have to deal with racing against an individual, but now you’ve got a team and now I’ve got to get through these guys,” he said. “That’s going to make it a lot tougher, but I’m excited.”

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/, or on social media like Facebook by searching for “Power Shift Performance.”

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