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What is Tough Truck Racing?

It's the 4x4 equivalent of Cirque du Soleil. But, unlike the leotarded performers who flit around on stage, Tough Truck competitors fly without ropes and don't have nets to cushion their falls. Also, Cirque's performance spaces are probably "imagineered" by some thin-mustached "artiste" with a funny accent, while the Tough Truck stages are built by John Deere or Case, using orange cones for clarity. Minus those few exceptions, the two shows are basically one and the same...

It wasn't always as artistic. In the early years of the Tough Truck competitions some 15 years ago, the tracks were designed to destroy. Street-legal trucks achieved Bigfoot-like air off steep ramps. Abrupt impacts between machine and earth littered the course with drivetrain and body parts. The crowd went berserk.

Tough Truck was immediate hit. Even mild-mannered participants frothed into a frenzy, taking on the track in their daily commuters. When word of this guts-and-glory spectacle spread, some participants entered barely-running beaters - fully intending to perform a single-vehicle demolition derby, then walk away from the mechanical remains. As the crowd erupted, drivers mounted their course-ravaged steeds to take a bow or pump a fist while the wrecker idled toward the carnage.

Over the years, the Tough Truck tracks have become more technical. Hills, turns, jumps and obstacles are positioned to test both vehicle setup and driver skill. Breakage still comes with the territory, though, as behind-the-wheel adrenaline and crowd encouragement motivate entrants to push hard with their right feet.

So, if you want to see amazing human feats of strength and flexibility, take a Vegas vacation and catch an artsy show. But for the finest in 4x4 speed and agility, plop down in the grandstands of a local event. You'll never look at the family SUV the same again.

Reprinted in part from the 2006 4-Wheel Jamboree Nationals Official Program
 


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