Dave Signs Up for His 25th Year of Truck Racing

Dave Jenkins on 25 years of truck racing: “If only you could put an old head on young shoulders”. As he prepares to celebrate two-and-a-half decades of truck racing this season, we caught up with Morris Lubricants ambassador Dave Jenkins to talk strategy, the evolution of technology in motorsport and why he’s got the competitive edge required to win.

It was autumn, 1997. Dave Jenkins had spent months restoring his father’s old racing truck and was about to find out whether the work he’d done to get it “sorted” enough for its return to competing would deliver the desired results. He climbed into the cab, settled into the drivers’ seat and turned over the engine. The truck rumbled to life and as it did so, Dave’s career in motorsport began.

“If only you could put an old head on young shoulders,” says Dave, who celebrates 25 years in truck racing this season. “We would have been unstoppable. When I look back at some of the mistakes, we used to make week in, week out, because of over-enthusiasm and over-exuberance, I now know that it’s better to have a more measured approach – but you’ve got to have a fair level of confidence to be that calm and organised. That confidence only comes through years and years of experience.”

After several seasons developing and racing his father’s truck, unfortunately, it met “an untimely demise” at Donnington Park one August bank holiday weekend during one of Dave’s overexuberant moments. “It was wrecked, but it prompted me to build a bigger and better one.”

In two-and-a-half decades of racing, technology has played a pivotal role in improving the safety and performance of each new truck Dave has designed, developed and built. The two most significant changes he has seen during this “evolution” are the “phenomenal amount of power that trucks have got now” and the ability to bring the five-tonne vehicles to a standstill safely.

“When I started, I was lucky if I still had brakes at the end of a race. The drum brakes used to get so hot, the water used to just run out, so you had to adapt your driving style. Today, we want to be able to do the fastest lap of the race, on the last lap of the race, so our trucks have had to get stronger.”

This season, with championship contenders taking to the track running new and more advanced engine technology, the Morris Lubricants ambassador anticipates an even more ferocious grid. The pressure to perform when you’ve invested in new kit, he says, can be immense. “In the past when the trucks were less developed you had to be an engineer to understand how to get the best out of them. Now they are easier to drive, it’s less of a challenge, but the racing has become more intense. I think it’s going to be a very tough year.”

After making a radical change to the position of his truck’s rear axle configuration at the end of last season, Dave is confident that this, teamed with his driving ability, will give him the competitive edge required to win. “The lap times we achieved last year were fantastic and I can’t see the rest of the field regularly achieving that level of performance.” The lesson here, underestimate Dave and his truck, Number 69, at your peril.

To protect the truck’s engine against the demands of racing, Dave runs it on Multivis MLR 10W-60 motor oil, a product with an extremely wide viscosity rating that was developed by Morris Lubricants for the motorsport industry. “It’s a stable product, it’s a reliable product and it’s of the highest quality,” he says. “I’ve always known that I can count on the quality of Morris Lubricants. I will only use their products in my racing truck as well as in the vehicles I service and repair for customers in my own business.”

With a machine that is able to perform consistently, Dave can concentrate on race strategy. Unlike other motorsport disciplines, in truck racing, there are no strategists at the other end of a radio link to provide second-by-second directives. The responsibility to win is entirely down to the driver.

“I see a race like a game of chess. If I go too hard too soon, I’m going to run out of tyres. With a reverse grid situation, if I get caught up in the traffic I’m going to get overtaken from behind. I develop as a driver every year, whether it’s technique, physically or my mental approach – but sometimes, you could do with a little help.”

Signifying another important milestone, Dave will celebrate ten years of sponsorship from Morris Lubricants this season. “Morris Lubricants were the first sponsor to pledge their support for 2021. Having the support of a strong brand like theirs means a lot to me. After the difficulties of the pandemic, it was the reassurance I needed that they will stand behind me and I can rely on them and their products. It was the first piece of the jigsaw puzzle in place to get ready for the season.”

It’s thanks to this relationship, and the efforts of his team, his family, his fans – who he can’t wait to see back in the stands at the BTRC this season– and his father, his most lasting and loyal devotee, that Dave never feels as though he’s lacking in support.

“When my mates and I got my dad’s old racing truck out we didn’t realise it was going to be the start of what’s been such a rewarding career. I think my dad was proud to see us carrying on his legacy and he’s certainly still proud today. He was unable to make it to any races last year, but we’re hoping he’s going to this year. He missed us, and we missed him too, so we’re all desperate to be back together and racing again.”

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