A Life in the Day of a truck racing driver

By James Gordon - 

With Haulage Exchange sponsoring Rooster Truck Racing this season, James Gordon charts a life in the day of racing driver Luke Taylor to find out what motivates him and why collaboration is so important.

A picture of two haulage Exchange Truckers

Taylor, 29, was born in Oldham in Greater Manchester. With a decade of racing cars and bikes under his belt, Taylor turned to trucks. Now a focal part of the Rooster Truck Racing team, which he helped to form five years ago, the team currently lies in eighth place in division one of the British Truck Racing Championship. But Taylor’s ambition is to secure a podium finish in the next few seasons. This weekend he races in the Nürburgring…

I get up most days at 7am. Breakfast’s usually a cup of black coffee and a slice of toast. Afterwards I’ll hit the gym and then work on the truck. But on race days my routine changes. I get up much earlier and I don’t eat much either. To control my pre-race excitement, I’ll visualise the course in my head. I know all eight of them like the back of my hand and I close my eyes and imagine negotiating corners, chicanes and the long stretches of track where I can really push the truck to its limits.

When I get to the racing circuit, the adrenaline really starts to kick in. The smell of rubber, of diesel, and the newly cut grass bordering the track sets the nerves jangling once more, as does the sight of King Klaus.

That’s our race truck. It is a specially built MAN TGX lorry. It might look like an ordinary freight vehicle to the untrained eye, but the only similarity is that it has a steering wheel, an engine and a gear box. Apart from that, it’s a different beast altogether. But for anyone not so mechanically minded, just picture this. From 40 mph to 100 mph, King Klaus can out pace a Porsche 911, a fact which I still find astonishing.

He’s called Klaus because the guy who built it – Jochen Hahn – named him ‘Klaus’, and then my dad added ‘King’ to make his name a little bit more regal sounding. He’s certainly racing royalty in our eyes.

And while we’re discussing names, I should probably tell you the story behind our team name, Rooster Racing. When I was young, I used to be a bit of dare devil. I was easily recognisable by my shock of ginger hair, my pals called me the Red Rooster. Most people grow out of their childhood nickname but I still chuckle to myself to think that mine’s still going strong.

As I walk to the paddock, the sight and sound of mechanics making last minute tweaks to King Klaus is comforting. It lets me know that I’m not alone. Too often in F1, the media heaps praise on the winning driver, but motor racing is a team sport and the secret to podium finishes is not so much about individual brilliance, but about collaboration.

That’s something that that the Transport Exchange Group, a collaborative logistics platform, who began sponsoring us this season, understands more than most. And so do their members – many of whom drive HGV’s for a living.

With races often decided by a hundredth of a second, we have a large support team of mechanics, engineers, and academics around us to try and squeeze out every last drop of performance. But, they really come into their own when things go wrong.

At 10am, we make final preparations. Having spent the weekend qualifying, we already know our position on the grid and so it’s really a case of discussing race tactics and game plan.

With an hour to go before the race, every driver handles the nerves and excitement in different ways. While we all have our game-faces on 30 minutes before the red lights go out, I always like to spend time with the fans, who now start to fill the stands. Most races draw crowds of 130,000 but Germans love their truck racing more than most, and today, they’ll be 200,000 fans.

Sometimes, I have to pinch myself when I think how lucky I am. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Dave, my mentor, my manager and my dad. My father, ran a successful freight logistics business for years, gave me the push I needed to get started and has been one of the big drivers behind the team’s success ever since we began the journey at the Nürburgring eight  years ago. That’s why winning here would be very special for me, my dad and the wider team. Wish us luck…

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