Motorsports by itself is something which is in a nascent stage in India, and introducing a sport such as truck racing has sure caught the attention of fans in India and globally. Tata Motors deserves the credit as it is the only company to do so, solely using the Tata Prima trucks.
The driver selection process for such a race is not easy, especially when it comes to picking Indian drivers since we don't have the experience. Tata Motors found a way around that little issue and started something called the ‘Truck Racing Program (TRP)' and managed to train everyday truckers to become professional racers.
In 2017, Tata Motors has successfully taken the TRP program a step higher, and has introduced TRP 2.0, under which thousands of truckers have been nominated to become potential racers. With the help of Accenture and Motorsports Management (MOMA), a selected few will get a chance to race the trucks.
The selected drivers will undergo a training process to make them mentally and physically stronger, and transform them from plain ‘truckers' to ‘truck racers'. Participants from the previous program have already seen changes in their lives, which they will cherish for a long time.
The training involves drivers to begin with the Xenon pickup, to understand the basics of racing — something all of us (Motoring Journalists) had a chance to experience at MMRT, Chennai. A slalom course was set up for the 20 odd journalists and at the end of the course were two boxes marked with cones.
An instructor would point a flag at one of the boxes, and the driver (journalist) should park the Xenon in the other box (not the one pointed at). Knocking out cones meant a foul move. The point of this course was to test the driving skills and the idea behind the two boxes and the instructor with a flag was to check the reaction time of the drivers — which DriveSpark did excel.
Keep in mind, the lucky few who had this particular chance were driving pickups with skinny tyres, and a slight flick of the steering wheel would kick out the rear of the Xenon, or worse, could come to a halt on one of the sides — which in other words, topple.
Moving on, the next event in store was to take a flying lap in the actual race truck. The Prima race trucks were driven by instructors, and the experience from the passenger seat falls short of words — how many people, or how many times has one been in a racing truck to explain to another the feeling? One cannot compare the thrill or the adrenaline rush to anything else. To sum it up, it was mind boggling!
These are the same trucks the drivers would race in, and thinking of it, one needs skill to race something that is meant to haul goods and containers — hats off to you, Tata Motors. The trucks are based on the regular Prima trucks sold by Tata Motors, but the engine, suspension, steering, cabin, brakes, tyres, cooling, etc., are all race spec.
Drivers are trained intensely, starting from pickups, and slowly graduate to the trucks, until race day — which will happen at the Buddh International Circuit, in Greater Noida in the months to follow. The TRP is a great platform to prepare Indian racers to take on international veterans in the future.
In case you missed all the action from last year's Tata Prima Truck Racing Championship, below are some images to give you a glimpse of some high adrenaline truck racing.