The British Pick Up Truck Championship is steadily growing and becoming more popular in the United Kingdom.
NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series has a little known baby brother here in the UK.
Yes, the British Pick Up Truck Championship has been around a few years, mainly unknown, but now it is starting to gain some momentum. This is due to the growth of all things NASCAR over here and now, being included as a support series for the British round of the NASCAR Whelen Euro division helps a lot as well.
Improved awareness of the series would help us get sponsors and more TV coverage
The racing, as you would expect, is very competitive, especially at Rockingham Motor Speedway. Even in the wet, the trucks thunder around the oval. One of the better known drivers is Neil Tressler, who owns the Relssert Racing team and so I asked him about the series. The first thing on my mind was how do you take a pickup truck and go tearing around an oval while it's raining?
“It’s just a matter of using wet tyres and changing the set up of the truck mainly the shocks and springs. With the different set up, you tend to run on top of the banking rather than the bottom so if you should hit the wall, it’s not such a hard hit.”
So how about your thoughts on the series itself?
“It needs more publicity. The drivers do help the organisers with the series promotion and social media although they do work hard. We get a little TV coverage but not a lot. Improved awareness of the series would help us get sponsors and more TV coverage. The drivers, in general are part time.”
Tressler himself has been racing a while. Inspired by watching races at Coventry Bees Speedway and Brisca F1 Stock Cars, he dreamed of a day when he could race. After going to Rockingham to watch the short lived ASCAR series, which featured BTCC star Jason Plato and former NASCAR Truck driver John Mikel, he set out to gain a racing licence, doing so in 2003.
He started off racing Legends, again at Rockingham in one of the BTCC support series. The racing bug had hit him good and he won ROTY honors that season. His career in Legends went well and after three years in the series, inspired by a love of NASCAR, he purchased a truck to race in 2007.
I really would love to race trucks in the USA and see how far I could go
“After passing my oval test in 2007 I ran the entire series and became rookie of the year. From there things went from strength to strength. In 2011, I came second in the oval championship and 4th overall but I fancied a new challenge.”
NASCAR Whelen Euro Career
In 2012, he made his debut in what is now the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series at Brands Hatch, supporting the DTM series. He ran a second race at Tours Speedway in France where he raced against current Camping World Truck Series driver Ben Kennedy and enjoyed a superb third place in the Elite 2 race.
“I really would love to race trucks in the USA and see how far I could go…maybe even chat with Jeff Gordon.”
In 2013, he was back in the Trucks and had his best result at Donington Park. Sadly, 2014 has not been so kind. A season full of engine and electrical issues have limited his time behind the wheel, so he's now shifted his focus to 2015 and a full season. He holds an International C Licence and no other drivers in the series have that.
With the huge growth of NASCAR in the UK and Europe recently, it would be a step in the right direction if the series can get more exposure. Who knows, it may even un-earth a future NASCAR champion.