- Published on Thursday, 11 July 2013 18:19
Wins two NHRA Competition Eliminator World Championships.
NORWALK, Ohio – From big screen televisions to Sportsman racing at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, Bruno Massel digs into mechanical head scratchers and shares what he learns.
Bruno Massel, Woodridge, Ill., co-hosts “Truck U,” a half-hour Speed Channel television show in its seventh season, each year filming 26 episodes that air on Sunday mornings first, then repeat on Saturday mornings. Check out the Website at Truckutv.com.
The group named the program “Truck U” as a shortened version of the original, “Truck University,” Bruno Massel said.
Two weeks ago “Truck U” finished taping a show, which rolled into Bruno Massel's list of favorite projects, spotlighting a 2012 Ford F 250.
“We did what you call, 'Storm Trooping it,'” Bruno Massel said. “We
stripped it down, basically took it down to the bare cab and chassis. Everything else is new. It's all white with black wheels. We lifted it up 36 inches.”
While professionally Bruno Massel stages dream builds and explains repairs on “Truck U,” he also cranks up those skills to add a twist of challenge to his 19-year obsession, drag racing, most recently at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.
His red 2007 Autogeek.net Chevy Cobalt races in the National Hot Rod Association Competition Eliminator class, and won the 2009 and 2012 NHRA World Championships in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
“It's a turbocharged four-cylinder,” Bruno Massel said. “There's this whole import scene. This motor is out of a production Chevy Cobalt. We just put it on steroids. It's got a big turbocharger. There are other high performance modifications to make it handle better.
“In production it made 200 horsepower,” Bruno Massel said. “We made 1,400.”
The challenge to boost performance of a four-banger emerged from automotive manufacturing trends to create more economical cars, Bruno Massel said. Saddled on the back of the increased miles per gallon came lowered power outputs and availability.
“Chevrolet Performance said, 'We're going to show we can not only make these cars economical on the street, but race engines as well,'” Bruno Massel said. “We had a two-year learning curve: A little trial and a lot of error for about two years.
“The car itself is a legal Pro Stock car, but (a Pro Stock car) has a Pro Stock engine,” Bruno Massel said. “This car never rolled off a production floor itself. It was built as a Pro Stock car. The body and interior have carbon fiber, and there's a lot of titanium on it as well.
“We've gone 6.82 seconds in the quarter mile, at 203 mph,” Bruno Massel said. “In a Cobalt. That's what's neat. I'll see a bunch of younger guys at the track, and they drive these every day. It's something that's relevant to the younger generation.”
The Cobalt appeared on “Truck U,” too, Bruno Massel said.
In October, Bruno Massel tackles an additional challenge as he heads up the Pro Import racing during the Shakedown at the Summit Octoer 4-6, 2013 at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.
“I think there's going to be a big turnout,” Bruno Massel said.
For information about Shakedown at the Summit, click on: Paint swapping door slammers!
Bruno Massel's roots run deep into speed and win lights.
“My dad raced just about anything you could come up with,” Bruno Massel said. “He's been racing since the mid-1960s. We used to race together. He just stopped driving in 2005. Now he's my crew chief.
“My mom comes to the races,” Bruno Massel said, adding his mother, wife, Dayna, and boys, Bruno III, 6, and Anthony, 4, created a family event at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park.
Though Dayna Massel doesn't line up at the tree, Bruno appreciates the support of his wife, saying, “She's just the best cheerleader ever.”
And Bruno and Dayna Massel talk about the possibility of the boys' lining up in Junior Dragsters in a couple of years or so.
Racing remains a Massel family deal.
“I used to play football and I'm a competitive person,” Bruno Massel said. “So this fills that void of competition for me.”
A marketing and finance major and football player while attending the University of Iowa, Bruno Massel said his background had nothing to do with television.
While Bill Bader Sr. owned the International Hot Rod Association, Bruno Massel filled his urge for speed and competition on weekends in the IHRA Top Dragster class. His day job staged glamour with lights.
“I used to be a male model,” Bruno Massel said. “That's what I started doing when I first got out of college. For four years that's what I did for a living. It was fun. I got to see a lot of the world. It was a neat experience.”
Bill Bader Sr. helped Bruno Massel land his first TV job.
“Bill had seen a commercial I had done,” Bruno Massel said, adding the company, 3M, continued the relationship with him off and on for about a decade. His most recent 3M commercial finished a run about six months ago.
“Bill got me the job as a color commentator for the series for the IHRA,” Bruno Massel said. “That was my first television job back in 2000. It was aired on two different networks. We did one show for Speed Channel, and another for a channel that is now defunct, TNN.”
Bill Bader Sr., now on the Board of Directors at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, said Bruno Massel asked about an opportunity to expand his portfolio.
“He's got all those looks and the smile and everything,” Bill Bader Sr. said. “So we saw to it that he got some microphone time. I worked with him on interviewing racers and got him some time doing our television show on TNN and then Speed Channel. We had Bruno do the announcing. He was one of our personalities.
“He's a great kid,” Bill Bader Sr. said. “He deserved the opportunity.”
Once Bruno Massel closes the hood on a finished project, who can tell what rolls up next?
“I've covered just about every motorsport except for NASCAR in the last 13 years,” Bruno Massel said, “and it all started with Bill Bader.”