Offroad racing’s new youth category took a giant leap forward this month with the unveiling of Kiwitruck, the sport’s new truck category.
Based on the successful American trophykart racer category, the new trucks will be built by Scott Buckley and his team at BSL Racing, home of the champion Aggressor speedway cars.
There will be specifications to suit young drivers coming out of the existing “Midget Racer”, which caters for children aged 5-8, and an additional category using the same frame and body but a more powerful engine for children aged 8-11.
First examples of the new trucks are designed for the 8-11 category and feature a 9hp industrial single cylinder engine and centrifugal clutch transmission. The trucks for older children will feature a 200cc farmbike engine and five speed gearbox. No modifications are allowed to engine or transmission, and the Kiwitrucks for the 8-11 age group will sell fully built for around $7,995.
For parents keen to build the truck themselves, a frame will sell for between $2,000-$2,500 and BSL is finalising a complete parts catalogue to enable the job to be done at home.
The category is the brainchild of Albany’s Richard Crabb, who is himself a successful “grown-up” racer.
Keenly aware that any sport needs a constant flow of new talent in order to survive, Crabb looked at the success of karting and the role it plays in feeding circuit racing with new talent.
“We needed something like karting to help grow the sport, and I could see there was a need for continuity so we don’t lose kids back out of the sport when they grow older.”
Crabb and friends first hit on the idea of creating the Midget Offroader category which works for kids as young as 65 The Midget cars are developing a strong following, helping make the sport more family-friendly.
Auckland’s All Terrain Racing Club has made the category its own, providing informal race days at its Meremere track and helping nurture the younger set into the category. For Crabb, once the Midget category was up and running, the next step was to provide continuity of racing with a step up to something with an incremental step up in performance and more suspension travel.
“We got the chance to buy a trophykart and bring it out here, saw the potential of the thing and that was the start of something big.”
The new trucks will all feature a “one make” frame, engine, transmission and fibreglass body, which is styled to resemble an American Trophy Truck.
Crabb says the trucks are easy to drive, fun and built for safety.
“The category is about families getting together for a fun day at the race track.”
The final key to the project was getting a reputable motorsport constructor to commit to pricing and building the components and trucks.
“Having BSL come on board tips the scales in our favour. Scott’s been fantastic, he has seen where we want to take this thing and seen the potential. Plus he’s got a bit of interest in making one for his own young fella!”
Buckley has added his own experience and construction style to the new trucks, and says the project is moving quickly now.
“We wanted to be able to offer a turn-key vehicle and also to be able to provide a frame and components for those who want to build their truck as part of the experience. We also wanted to hit specific pricing milestones to keep the trucks fun and affordable.”
A completely built truck will hit its $7,995 price point providing Buckley is able to course the final components within his price targets.BSL will stock all the components for truck builders and for repairs to trucks where these may be needed from time to time. A switch from the US truck’s CNC-machined aluminium suspension components to tubular arms means repair or replacement is easy and inexpensive.
The first BSL truck turned a wheel at a demonstration day at Meremere early this month, and Buckley and Crabb already have their first order for a DIY build.
“We reckon this will follow the karting experience, with some families buying a ready to race vehicle while others will see the fun in building the truck themselves, so we needed to be able to cater to both.”