Get Started in the Sport of Truck Racing

By Tom Anderson
Oct. 18, 2017

What’s more fun than a beater racecar? If you answered a beater race truck, you’re correct. Sure, your lap time around the local track might suffer a few ticks, but who cares when you’ve got long-travel suspension and no windshield? Ever see a race car take a jump? Trucks can.

What’s that? Trophy trucks cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to build and demand even more in the way of maintenance? That’s true, but you don’t need Ivan Stewart’s tube-frame baja beast to have a good time. There are plenty of ways to begin your career thrashing pickup trucks on the cheap. That is, if you haven’t already begun.

Baptism by Baja

Before you jump in, see if you like it. Pistol Pete Sohren’s Baja Racing Adventures offers an intense experience. It’ll rent you out a BAJALITE mini truck or even a full-fat small-block powered Trophy Truck for the right price. You can run the truck for a single race or even an entire season. Single race packages start at $6,500, or $13,000 for the Trophy racer. Just come ready to deal with the locals if you crash.

Build Your Own Race Truck

While arrive-and-drive racing sounds fun, the costs make it exclusive. For the cost of a single race through Pistol Pete’s operation, you can enjoy an entire season of racing your own modified Ford Ranger in the Bro-Lite series.

You can basically turn over a rock and find a used Ranger, which makes the price of entry cheap, and the next step in “building” this truck is just tearing all the stuff out of it. So that’s free. You’ll need to install some safety equipment and suspension, which race veterans say can be accomplished for under $5,000. Then it’s off to the races.

Of course, there are maintenance costs as with any race operation, but if you’ve got a decent knowledge of the local pick & pull and a trusty body panel supplier, there’s no need to spec your thrasher out with OEM goods. Aftermarket panels will save you money and do the job just fine.

Get Your Mud On

Amateur racers oftentimes get their start in the world of competitive karting or by attending track days, but off-road racing doesn’t give many opportunities for those who want a taste of the sport or want to track their own vehicle.

If you can afford it, there’s a driving school in Arizona where you can saddle up in a genuine Super Lite Championship-spec race track sporting an unlikely rotary motor and have at the track along with other school attendees.

A Labor of Love, and Mud, and Grease

Never forget that budget racing is still not even in the same zip code as “cheap” sports, but for the same money someone’s out there spending on a neon pair of golf pants and drinks at the club, you’ll have a new weekend project and a truck that puts a smile on your face. Pickup trucks really are the most practical vehicles on the market.