You guys (and girls) have balls of steel. Anyone willing to take their expensive, air-suspended show truck and light up the tires then blast sideways down a quarter-mile dragstrip is nuts or at least has a serious disregard for the value of custom sheetmetal. We watched in awe as pure custom trucks lined against full-blown drag racers in August. The cause was The Sport Truck Challenge, an event that has been missing from the calendar for several years but is back with a vengeance.

We were looking for an excuse to add drag racing to our annual Havoc custom truck show, and when the opportunity to move to Beech Bend Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, came along, we decided now was the time to bring back The Challenge. The park had plenty of room for the show 'n' shine and another vital ingredient, a fully staffed dragstrip. This time around, though, we wanted to level the playing field and make it a bit more enticing for the novice to want to participate in The Challenge. We also eliminated a few of the traditional Challenge events in an effort to speed up the program and make it more entertaining for spectators. Gone are the slalom and braking tests. Instead, we kept the program short and sweet with an all-out drag race, with one small but very important exception: They were also judged on show parameters.

The goal of The Challenge was to find not only the quickest trucks around but also the coolest. We didn't want a fiberglass-bodied, race fuel-burning, uninsured and unregistered drag truck that would never see street duty to win The Challenge, so we changed the rules a bit to keep it fair. Going fast is important but so is having a truck that is a bit more relevant to the rest of us who don't have a dedicated race truck. To that end, we split the point total used to pick the winner in half, assigning a major portion of the points a truck could garner in several new categories. Those categories include the truck's exterior, interior, and audio system, engine and engine compartment, and bed areas. We judged the cleanliness, customization, and execution of the mods of each truck just as a judge would at the Havoc show and awarded points for how well a truck was customized. Those points were combined with points earned by blitzing the quarter-mile race track as quickly as possible.

The faster a truck could get down the track, the more points it earned. The better the truck looked, the more points it could earn. This system kept the pure race trucks from winning all of the killer prizes donated by Interco Tire Corp., Gale Banks Engineering, JBM, and Stillen. Our thinking was that if a drag truck was going to come to the track and win everything, then it better show up with a slick paintjob and bangin' audio system to go along with the rollcage, racing slicks, and coilover shocks that would give it an edge against the pure show trucks. Our strategy paid off in spades.

We had an extremely diverse field of competitors. The race trucks were there but so were trucks driven by casual observers who we lured into the competition with an offer they couldn't refuse: Anyone who entered their truck in the Havoc truck show could automatically enter The Challenge or a heads-up bracket race for free. Better yet, no matter what kind of truck you drove, you still had a shot at winning it all. The offer brought out trucks that had never seen a race track before and drivers who had never even entertained the thought of mashing the go pedal for a full 1,320 feet. It was quite a spectacle. We had lifted trucks, diesel-powered monsters, trucks on airbags, trucks with no door handles, and trucks with rollcages, all competing on the same strip. We even had a woman with zero fear step up in her 14-inch lifted custom Ford Super Duty after she came to the show fresh from her morning horse-feeding chores. It was one hell of a weekend of racing.