Where racing is a win-win

Captured at rest by your intrepid reporter during a “race-fan day” held mid-week at Meritor’s Cameri axle manufacturing and engineering facility in northern Italy is a pair of high-powered European race trucks.

These and other heavy-duty racers thrilled employees and their families throughout the sunny late-May afternoon with their fairly high-speed runs around the Cameri campus.

It was all a prelude to the upcoming weekend’s big event—a European Truck Racing Championship (ETRC) staged a few hours’ drive away at Italy’s Misano racetrack.

Cooling their heels oustide Meritor's Cameri, Italy, axle plant are IVECO and MAN two-axle road racing tractors fielded by two of the many teams that compete on the European truck-racing circuit

ETRC only qualifies as racers vehicles fitting the description of “series production two-axle road tractor units.” Each event is organized over two days, each of which concludes with a pair of “Championship” circuits of 45 km +/- one lap.

I've been lucky enough to be not only the guest of Meritor for a truck race in Italy this spring, but I've been hosted as well by ZF at several other ETRC races run in Germany, going back to 2000.

While at those various events, I heard many trackside experts contend that, just as racing horses "improves the breed," manufactuers that engage or support every sort of motorsport score both useful data on and human reactions to their vehicles.

Yet truck racing is also a plain old huge draw in Europe, pulling in the kind of family-friendly crowds that one often encounters at state and county fairs in the U.S.

Seen firsthand, these races present a very upbeat face for trucking— one that is both highly competitive and exhaustingly professional.

Improving the breed aside, as I see it there's no doubt the positive reflection racing casts on trucking is why ETRC and individual race teams are heavily sponsored by numerous major suppliers to the global commerical-vehicle market.

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