Dave Jenkins, Morris Lubricants’ racing ambassador, talks about what it took to overcome the unprecedented challenges during lockdown and reveals why he can’t wait to get back to Donington.
It was during a quiet moment in the early days of lockdown that worry caught up with championship winning truck racer Dave Jenkins, a family man and key worker. “I experienced my lowest point at the beginning, I didn’t know how we were going to cope,” says Dave, who owns two vehicle repair garages that service domestic and commercial transport – including fleets responsible for delivering food across the country during the pandemic.
He continues: “I’m quite a practical, pragmatic, and organised person, but this was completely out of my control. That day I didn’t finish work until very late, and when I got home I watched the news and got so panicked and wound up that I didn’t sleep a wink.”
With the pressure on to keep his business operational, the Morris Lubricants racing ambassador prioritised reassuring his team. He explains: “I thought ‘you can’t let that happen to yourself again’. I didn’t want this feeling to filter through to my staff, so I got them in and said ‘no matter what happens, I’ve got this covered’. I didn’t quite know how I was going to do it, but I didn’t want them to feel like I’d felt.”
With renewed focus, Dave dealt with the challenges that each day brought. At home, this meant alleviating the anxiety that his family were experiencing and doing what he could to keep them safe. At work, it was adapting shift patterns and implementing COVID-19 secure practices. His diligence paid off, with only 20% of his staff needing to go on furlough and the business able to function at a sustainable level throughout lockdown.
“I had a huge level of assurance from Morris Lubricants that they were going to stand by me, that we would pull through this and get out the other side together,” says Dave, who admits that racing his jetblack MAN TGX 12000cc truck was never far from his mind – despite the season being indefinitely postponed, and potentially cancelled altogether, back in March.
Under normal circumstances, the buildup to racing season is frantic, with lots of late nights and rushing around, something which Dave says he couldn’t do without the support of his family: “This is my passion and hobby, but I can’t go racing on my own. I have to have the complete support of my family, they have to be behind me. If they weren’t, there’s no way I could free up the time, or have the motivation to go and do it.”
This year, Dave has enjoyed working on his truck at home under more relaxed circumstances, and finally, the time is coming to put the changes he has made to the suspension and wheel alignment to the test.
Reduced from the usual nine rounds of racing to four, the streamlined 2020 British Truck Racing Association (BTRA) season will start at the end of August. The first race takes place at Donington, followed by Snetterton in September, Pembrey in October, and Brands Hatch in November.
Dave concludes: “I get a huge sense of pride and emotion about racing because of the effort you have to put into it, and the people that come to support you. This year, whether it becomes a four-race championship, or whether it’s four standalone races, we are going to try and win every one of those races. Last season, we finished second in the championship, and we were still winning races at the end of the year. That’s exactly what we’re going to do again. We go racing to win, so that’s what we need to do.”