Transporting the Racecar – Trailer Options

In this section, you’ll learn about the various types of car trailers and where to find used car trailers for sale.

You have determined how you will obtain a racecar and a competition license, but now how will you get the car to the track? Yes, I know, just add one more thing to worry about. If you are very fortunate, you already have a vehicle that you can use for towing the car to the track. If you don’t currently have access to a tow vehicle, then you should start giving this subject some thought. While it is technically possible to drive the car to the track, and some people do this, the better option is to tow the car to the track. If you drive the car to the track, what happens if the car breaks-down, or if it gets involved in an accident, and you can’t drive the car home? How will you fit all of the necessary gear inside of the car? Again, some people do it, but it certainly is not the preferred method. When giving thought to potential tow vehicles, would you consider trading in your car and purchasing a pick-up truck, SUV, or van for daily use? Or possibly it would make sense to purchase an inexpensive used vehicle to tow with, while retaining your current daily-driven vehicle. Would renting a tow vehicle be an option? With each answer you need to weigh the pros and cons. Before making this decision, you also need to determine how much weight the vehicle needs to be capable of towing. If you choose to purchase an enclosed trailer, the vehicle choice will most likely be different than if you purchased another type of trailer. If you choose to purchase an inexpensive vehicle to use, be careful not to get something that will cause more headaches than it is worth. I obtained an old Ford Bronco that was worth no more than $600. The truck drove around without any issues until I started using it for towing. While driving to the track, it was necessary to gain a head of steam before driving up any hills, and even then it barely made it. While at the track, I often found myself worrying about the ride home instead of focusing on racing and enjoying the day. After a few races, I determined that this simply was not working, and I needed to find another way to transport my racecar to and from the track.

One option that I looked into was renting a vehicle to tow the car to the track, but most standard rental car companies such as Hertz or Enterprise don’t allow customers to tow trailers. I did discover that car dealerships that offer car rental often do allow towing. Although renting a tow vehicle from a dealership was not terribly expensive, it came along with the inconvenience of having to pick it up the day before the race, then drop it off after the event. There would also be the worry if the dealership would have a vehicle capable of towing available for rental when I needed it.

Another interesting idea is to purchase a used small box truck, such as ones used by moving companies. One of my friends bought an older moving box truck for this purpose. His car is transported inside the truck, while his brother’s is towed on a trailer behind it. It’s very convenient. It is a pretty good idea, but there are a few concerns to be considered when purchasing a box truck. Depending on the state you live in, you may be required to have a commercial driver’s license. You may also have difficulty obtaining insurance on the vehicle since the insurance company may consider it a commercial vehicle. If you are considering this option, definitely contact your insurance agent to determine what your state’s related motor vehicle laws are prior to purchasing a box truck. The other concern is how the racecar is loaded into the truck. Each time I watch my friend either put the car into the truck, or take it out, it becomes a bit nerve-racking even for me as an onlooker. Think about the height difference between a car coming off a trailer, versus what it would be like using a box truck.

After considering all possible options, my wife and I decided to sell one of our daily-driven cars and purchase a Toyota Tundra pick-up truck. This decision was extremely difficult for, me since we were selling the car I had wanted for many years, my “baby.” Yes, it was the Mitsubishi 3000GT that I mentioned in the Getting Your Feet Wet section. Looking back on the decision now, it really made sense based on my racing goals. Having a reliable tow vehicle made racing more enjoyable and took away much of my previous stress. If you decide not to turn your daily-driven car into a tow vehicle, you can find an inexpensive tow vehicle that will still be fairly reliable.

Do be careful not to purchase a tow vehicle that will require constant repairs. Take your time and look around for something that suits your current and future needs. For example, you may want to purchase a vehicle that is capable of towing a “full” trailer, even if you only intend to utilize a tow dolly for now. You may consider purchasing a utility van – they can make excellent tow vehicles, and used ones can be bought relatively inexpensively. When I did some quick searches for vans, SUVs, and pick-up trucks, I was positively surprised at what could be found for under $2,500.

Once you obtain a tow vehicle, it will be necessary to install a receiver hitch, if it does not already have one on it. When purchasing a receiver hitch, it is very important to choose the correct class receiver (amount of weight it can support) based on your towing needs. The gross towing weight and tongue weight will determine the hitch needed. The gross towing weight is the weight of the trailer fully loaded and ready for towing. The tongue weight is the downward push exerted on the hitch ball by the trailer coupler. When looking at the gross towing weight and tongue weight, take into consideration all of the tools, race tires, and other items that may be loaded on the trailer. For safety reasons, don’t exceed the rating of any component in your towing system (tow vehicle, receiver hitch, ball mount, and ball). A typical custom-fit receiver hitch costs $120 – $150. Since receiver hitches are made to fit specific vehicles, the installation process is often much easier than one might think. However, it still might be a good idea to contact a trailer dealer or moving company (such as U-Haul) to see how much they would charge for a receiver hitch and installation. In addition to the hitch, you will also need a trailer ball that mounts on the receiver hitch. Be sure of the ball size the trailer requires, as one size won’t be compatible with all trailers. A trailer ball can be bought for approximately $12. Depending on the trailer you choose, it may also be necessary to convert the plug from 4 pins to 7 pins. Don’t cut the 4 pin connector off, as it is nice to have just in case you ever tow something else. Think more toys! A pin adaptor typically costs less than $20.

Trailer Options
You now need to determine the type of trailer that is right for you. There are a several different types of trailers to choose from that come in many different shapes and sizes. Later in this section is a list that includes approximate weights for several common types of trailers when completely empty and “stock” (before items such as tire racks are added). If you plan to add additional accessories such as a tire rack or storage compartment, you also need to consider the overall size of the trailer to accommodate these items as well as added weight. Trailer weight and pricing will vary among manufacturers and retailers, but at least the information below will provide you an idea of the relative costs.