Toolboxes a thing of the past, so what do Truck drivers want now?
As much as any trophy, the Craftsman toolbox awarded in Victory Lane was coveted by Truck Series winners. And while a a fine tradition ends next season, drivers have some ideas for new title sponsor Camping World, writes John Schwarb.
Updated: December 22, 2008, 11:56 AM ETBy John Schwarb | Special to ESPN.com
Icon SMIFor the last 14 years, the winner's toolbox has been the Holy Grail for Craftsman Truck Series drivers. Starting next season, Camping World takes over as the circuit's new title sponsor.As he had done in each of five previous trips to Victory Lane, Terry Cook hoisted the Craftsman toolbox and sent it airborne with a spin, showing everyone the inside of the lid that declared him the winner of the 2006 Truck series race at Kansas Speedway. Then it came down, and Cook realized -- oops! -- the toolmaker had built a better, heftier box in the four years since the last time he finished first. Crash! "I couldn't catch it," Cook said. "It came tumbling down on the truck, dented the truck and hit crew members in the back. I did more damage after the race in Victory Lane with the toolbox than I did winning the darn race. One drawer won't even close, I dropped it so hard. I still have that toolbox." Well, of course. If you won any Craftsman Truck Series race from its 1995 inception through last year, you or your team kept the toolbox as a prized possession. Cook has one from all six of his wins. Todd Bodine's 15 boxes are prominently arranged in a pyramid over an entryway at the Germain Racing shop. Ron Hornaday Jr., the three-time series champion and all-time leading race winner with 39, has a few from back in the day, but now signs and gives them to crewmen in order of seniority. "It's kind of neat to go to these guys' houses and you see the toolbox," said Hornaday, who won last year's championship in a Camping World-sponsored Chevrolet. "It's their little trophy, too." But with Camping World taking over as the title sponsor of the Truck series in 2009, the coveted winner's toolbox will become a thing of the past. The new series promoter has a tough act to follow in the trophy department. To racers, the basic three-drawer red box, which wouldn't draw a second glance in any average Joe's workshop, was a priceless reward at the track. To Craftsman, it was the centerpiece of a 14-year run that redefined sponsorship activation in motorsports. There are certainly far more pressing issues in the Truck series this offseason: Bobby Hamilton Racing folded last month, Mansfield (Ohio) Motorsports Park dropped its 2009 race date Wednesday and much uncertainty remains amid this horrid economy. But once the racing resumes in mid-February at Daytona, keep an eye on the "other" prize at Victory Lane.
Thinking Outside The Box
Camping World hasn't announced its own winner's gift to follow in the tradition of Craftsman's familiar toolboxes, but Truck series drivers have a few suggestions:"I think they should give us a motor home, but I guess that's not practical."
-- Ron Hornaday Jr."Maybe tickets to a travel resort?"
-- Dennis Setzer"A mini-RV or a mini pop-up tent."
-- Brendan Gaughan"A gas Coleman lantern."
-- Todd Bodine"Motor-home accessories every race would be kind of cool -- you know how you drain your dirty water from your motor home, where they give you a hose? Though people would think you're kind of weird if you've got a hose sitting in your trophy case."
-- David Starr