With motorsport off the calendar indefinitely, it’s been crucial to plunge deep into the mire of YouTube to find some machines on a track. Luckily for you, I’ve plucked one such video out for you and it comes from Australia. It’s the inaugural Shell Formula Diesel Super Prix from 1987.
Australia is a country built on trucking. Three- and four-trailer road trains ply the distances between the country’s coastal cities through the dusty Outback interior. The mighty machines necessary for that kind of work make trucks from Europe, Asia, and even America look like toys by comparison.
But this is Australia, home to the Bathurst 1000 and a countless array of muscle cars we can only dream of. I’m talking cars like the Falcon XB, the Valiant 770 Charger, and, of course, the Holden Maloo super-ute. With the spirit behind those cars, especially that work-truck-based Maloo, in their bellies, these Aussies took their big trucks to the track.
The result? tremendous entertainment. These trucks, somewhat modified from stock, are more than capable of providing the drama any self-respecting motorsport fan demands of race-day action. Trucks trying to take the inside line, matches of power, braking and wits on the straights, and plenty of contact as well are all features of these races. But these racers have high centres of gravity and a distinct lack of track real estate to constrain them. It is no doubt challenge to keep control of these trucks but the drivers manage to pull off just a little more than you’d think possible at every corner.
One of the more interesting features of these races is the fact that the diversity of the Australian heavy truck market extends here as well. Australia is blessed with a selection of trucks on the market from Europe, Asia, and North America. That means cab-overs and conventional trucks. And at these races it appears that representatives of all corners of the market are welcome. There are British ERFs chasing three-axle long-hooded American Kenworths with through corners and showdowns on straights between Mitsubishis and Renaults. Finally, a venue where we can learn which philosophy is best. On the race-track, at least.