For NASCAR transport drivers, the race weekend starts at the Challenge. Congratulations to Jamie Price, who won the TA Truck Service Challenge at the Sonoma Raceway on June 21. Price hauls equipment for Kyle Busch’s No. 18 car with Joe Gibbs Racing.
The Challenge gives NASCAR transport drivers the chance to show off their driving skills and knowledge by going head to head in a pre-trip check, a written DOT regulations exam and a course navigation test using the official Challenge hauler.
While one of the responsibilities of NASCAR haulers is getting their respective racecars to the track for each event, the driving part only makes up a small percentage of the job, according to Price. They drive about 50,000 miles per year, which they split in half between the team of drivers.
Most teams consist of two drivers. Price’s co-driver for Kyle Busch’s car is Brendan “Slim” Greene, who won the first Challenge event in Atlanta earlier this year.
“We’re together on race day every week, but we don’t drive to every race together,” Price said. “Sometimes one guy will drive down solo, and the other will fly in on Sunday. Then he will drive home, and the other will fly home or vice versa. This gives us each some time off in between races.”
Price and Greene may not travel to each event together, but they are both responsible for more than just ensuring the race car arrives on time. These gentlemen maintain everything, from the front to the back of the trailer, and even cook their teams lunch and dinner.
“We make sure the car has the correct parts and oils; we restock the trailer from the previous weekend,” Price said. “We get everything cleaned up, we get the toolbox unloaded and set up for the guys, and we go grocery shopping and cook for the guys at the track.”
In addition to all of those tasks, Price handles setting up the observation deck, which is located on the top of the trailer.
“This is where the crew chief stands to watch practice,” Price said. “Then he and the driver get together and talk about what’s going on or if anything is wrong before the Sunday race.”
Price has been driving haulers for NASCAR race teams since 2004 when he began driving the truck for Hank Parker Junior. He takes a lot of pride in making sure his truck and all its components are clean and up to par, but he also genuinely enjoys being on the road.
“I am a truck driver at heart – I love driving across the country. I got excited when it was time to head to Sonoma,” he said.
Sonoma was not the first time Price has won a Challenge competition; in fact, he’s won the event twice in previous years. Compared to previous events he’s won, he felt the Sonoma Challenge was at about the same difficulty level.
“Some events are easier, but it’s kind of a mind game,” Price said. “Sometimes it depends how much time we’ve got. You have to be careful about how too much time you’re spending on certain obstacles.”
When he’s not competing in driver Challenges or traveling back and forth between race tracks and the Joe Gibbs Racing Shop in Huntersville, North Carolina, he’s hunting, fishing or working on old cars at his own shop in Mooresville, North Carolina.
“I work on older cars as a hobby,” Price said. “I restored my wife’s ‘63 Pontiac Catalina. I tore it apart and put it back together with brand new hardware and everything.”
Price says he plans on using his Sonoma Challenge winnings to support his shop hobby, and he’ll be back to win the remaining Challenge competitions this season.
You can catch Jamie Price and his fellow Challenge competitors at the next event, which will take place at the Kentucky Speedway on July 12.