Following a trip to Queensland’s mining hot spot in the Bowen Basin earlier this year, professional race car driver James Courtney proposes a tantalising challenge to his Mobil 1 MEGA Racing teammate Scott Pye.
It is a suggestion so out of left field that nothing quite like it has been replicated around the world: the proposition of a Supercar facing off against one of National Group’s Caterpillar 777F dump trucks.
The challenge initially surprised National Group managing director Mark Ackroyd, whose somewhat disbelief soon turns to sheer excitement.
“Mining equipment is definitely not seen racing around a track very often, they are usually busy moving tonnes of dirt from point A to point B,” Ackroyd comments pre-race.
National Group’s MD, like many others, is enthralled by the prospect of two dominant vehicles in their respective industries facing off in the pure terrain of his National Group owned property in Nebo, Queensland.
“It will be an interesting matchup as our dump trucks are more well-known for their large engine capacity, sheer size and brute force; race cars on the other hand are more about speed and agility, so we’ve put a few obstacles in the way to even the score,” Ackroyd continues.
“Let’s see if the king of the mines can out muscle the king of the racetracks, I’ll even start the race myself.”
It set the stage for a battle of the beasts, with absolutely no denying of the competitive nature between Courtney and Pye.
As Courtney hides the keys in his palm, Pye is challenged to choose a hand in order to decide which driver will operate each respective vehicle.
In this moment, Courtney sends a cheeky jab at his opponent Pye, “I’ll let you choose Scotty. I’m fairly confident I have got this either way.”
The result sees Courtney enter the starter’s line in the familiar surroundings of his Mobil 1 MEGA Racing car, while Pye rolls up in the colossal dump truck.
“This is not something you get to do every day. We drive for a living, but I’m sure this will be a totally different experience. We’re both looking forward to the challenge,” Pye says, with a hint of nerves.
The race course is set in a way so each vehicle can capitalise on their respective strengths – the Supercar must weave through obstacles to highlight its agility, while the sheer brute power of the dump trucks will be showcased as it streams forward in a straight line.
As the vehicles wait to start the race, Pye exclaims: “this thing is huge… I’m about 20 feet off the ground.”
Ackroyd starts the race and as the supercar hit its first obstacle, the dump truck begins to pick up momentum leading into the finish line. While Pye takes the initial bragging rights, the challenge isn’t quite over.
“Let me have a go mate, I’m curious to see myself how these big mining trucks handle,” Courtney says.
After switching vehicles and enjoying the power offered by National Group’s dump trucks, the two drivers have time to reflect on the once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“Growing up, almost every little boy imagines themselves driving around big trucks. Thanks to the National Group, James and I got to be young kids again for the day. We had a ball,” Pye says.
Equally excited, Courtney shares his experience with Australian Mining, “the whole day was awesome. When you’re involved in motorsports, you love anything with an engine, no matter the shape or size.”
For the National Group, the race highlights an opportunity for the mining and racing communities to come together and celebrate the relationship that exists with Mobil 1 MEGA Racing.
“Today was a great opportunity to showcase our partnership with the Mobil 1 MEGA Racing and most of all have some fun combining our industries’ machines together for a never before seen event,” Ackroyd says.
As Courtney and Pye head back to the busy schedule of the professional race car tour and National Group staff work on their next fleet of mining vehicles, this race will undoubtably be etched in the memory of both drivers for a while to come.
This article also appears in the October edition of Australian Mining.