Avatar photo

August 12, 2009 Vol. 5, No. 16

So I spent a couple of days recently at my favorite fixture on the summer schedule of outdoor truck shows, the Rodeo du Camion in Notre-Dame-du-Nord, Quebec, six hours due north of Toronto. It was the 29th edition of this nutty event in which trucks, both bobtail and pulling loaded B-trains, race against each other up a 7% grade for about a quarter mile along one of this little French town’s two main streets. They call it a truck pull but it’s really a simple drag race, with conventional ‘Christmas tree’ lights to launch pairs of competitors up a rather steep incline that gets steeper as it nears the top.

Over the course of two days, elimination heats bring 80 or so would be kings of the hill down to just two in each of three horsepower classes from stock trucks to modified machines. In each class there’s a bobtail category and a loaded one – and ‘loaded’ means gross weight of 63,000 kg or about 140,000 lb. There’s also an ‘Open’ class for a few purpose-built racing machines.

Over the years various rivalries have developed and while some folks just enter for the fun of it, there are those who take it very seriously indeed, dyno-testing their motors beforehand. The crowd has its favorites, that’s for sure, and as the weekend wears on the intensity of the competition rises with the ever increasing volume of their cheers. That volume is powered partly by Coors Light, a major sponsor, and its beverages can be seen in many a six-pack hanging off the belts of fans who stand behind a skimpy little snow fence for hours on end to watch the proceedings. My company is also a long-time major sponsor, not incidentally.

I bring this event to your attention, as I did a couple of years back, because I continue to be utterly amazed at the strength of the trucks – and especially their drivelines – that we all know and love. This year we had only two broken driveshafts or U-joints as far as I’m aware, plus the destruction of third gear in one veteran transmission. Sure, almost none of the competing trucks are flatland southern van-haulers, the vast majority of them being beefy rides built for very heavy work, including logging. There’s even an Autocar that acquits itself quite well year after year.

So I’m always mighty impressed that they hold together so well. But this year the organizers pulled a surprise – at least it was to me – hooking up the two highest-horsepower finalists in the loaded category, both in Peterbilts, to triple trailers for the last race of the event! The gross? Some 84,000 kg or about 185,000 lb. Holy moly. See the picture here, winner Nicolas Gagnon on the right.

Avatar photo

Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to

Have your say

This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.