During the just past 2015 season the Burlington Ontario-based racer dedicated his season to the exhibition racing circuit – racing a totally unique Jet-powered truck. Built to resemble a International Transtar model 4300 – this monster is powered by a Westinghouse J34-WE-48 Turbojet equipped with a afterburner used by a T-2 Buckeye. Burning jet fuel – Rick’s truck is capable of producing some 12,000 HP along with 6,000 lbs of thrust which makes the truck fully capable of running in excess of 200 mph.
Prior to 2015 Rick had become well known and reputed for racing a variety of good looking, fast and competitive race cars. But in addition to being a racer, Kopp has always been a businessman and promotor . Over time he realized the cost associated with conventional drag racing compared to it’s net return was not always attractive. That bit of soul searching resulted in his change of direction and his PYRO Jet Truck team operation was born.
“My philosphy for drag racing lies in one simple formula,” Rick explained. “That is to delight the fans and track owners, and get invited back every time! Our new PYRO Jet Truck focuses on entertaining full-time which is my true passion and in the end the return on investment is a positive one.”
Since first buying the Jet-truck from it’s previous owner in Florida in January 2015, Rick ran a highly successful exhibition season last year – at 12 different venues.
There was of course an adjustment period for his driving. Racing jet-powered trucks compared to his previous drag racing experience was as expected, a vastly different process.
“There was some adjustment and training involved for sure,” he continued. “The prior owner assisted in the initial set-up and training down in Florida. When we got the truck up to Canada, we needed to do some updates and mechanical adjustments. We brought in a jet engine specialist who works with us ongoing. Every run we learn something new, as with any race car.”
For the exhibition racing tour Rick has to get re-licensed every year. In 2016 he will be working on completing his runs to acquire both an NHRA and IHRA certification.
Going into 2016 his team are making plans for a jam-packed schedule at various race tracks and air shows across North America.
“Each show is a bit different,” he added. “PYRO offers a variety of custom show types, so our performance objectives depend upon that. For race tracks and air strips where we can run a full shot, we complete a minimum of 3-4 passes at either 200 or 250 mph (depending on the venue). For venues that do not have a track per se, we offer an outstanding burn-down show along with fire stacks, smoke show and light/strobe show with a loco loud horn! Overall the fans just love it.”
Rick reports that he is already completely booked for the period June-July and part of August and September this summer!
“Our largest program to date is Festidrag in Quebec which includes 10 shows this season,” he said. “We will also be doing at least two air shows in Ontario. We’re also working on a variety of races throughout the U.S. too — the great thing about that is that it expands our season to 10 months of the year. We’ll be finalizing our US tours soon.”
Rick also confirmed significant interest being shown in his team from some tracks in Western Canada and he would like nothing more then to be able to schedule some appearances there too.
“The truck has been updated and blinged out, along with a new trailer and hauler,” he concluded. “We are looking forward to debuting our brand new design and look in April in Quebec!”
For more information and some cool videos visit his race team website : www.pyrojetshow.com.
Posted by: Bruce Biegler