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Fire up the engines: 'The Great Food Truck Race' is at the starting line

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Andrew Warren / TV Media
Tyler Florence hosts "The Great Food Truck Race"

Tyler Florence hosts "The Great Food Truck Race"

Do you know what I love? Food trucks. They're not just old converted buses selling french fries and burgers any more (not that there's anything wrong with those!), but rather full-fledged mobile restaurants that sell everything from simple street food to high-end foodie fare. 

That gamut of goodies is on full display in this year's season of "The Great Food Truck Race," premiering Sunday, Aug. 20, on Food Network. Seven teams of food truck business novices are fired up and ready to race across the South, each with its own business concept, style of cuisine and, of course, group of eclectic characters.

The race kicks off Sunday night in New Orleans' historic French Quarter, where returning host Tyler Florence ("How to Boil Water") passes the keys to the food trucks over to the eager racers. Each team receives its own mobile kitchen, and their first challenge gets underway immediately: they must bake up some tasty beignets and sell them to the hungry locals.

But it's not all easy in the Big Easy -- running a food truck is hard work, as the teams quickly discover. After the cash is counted from beignet sales, it's time for the next challenge inspired by a local favorite. The hurricane is a drink made with rum, fruit juice and syrup, and the teams need to turn it into an entirely new dish, using those same ingredients, that the locals will love.

Running any business can be tough, but food trucks come with their own special set of challenges that the teams become all too familiar with over the next month. Each episode finds them zipping down the interstate to the next city on the itinerary, with stops in Pensacola, Florida; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Nashville, Tennessee; and Athens, Georgia -- but each week the ranks grow a bit thinner. At each stop, the team that's least successful in Florence's challenge has to hand over the keys and exit the race.

With creative names such as "Braised in the South," "Mr. Po' Boys" and "The Breakfast Club," each three-person team competes for the same thing: a $50,000 cash prize and the kind of recognition that winning "The Great Food Truck Race" can bring to a fledgling business. "The Great Food Truck Race" revs up Sunday, Aug. 20, on Food Network.