Trends and technical aspects incorporated into your race car can contribute to a better race day. In that same mode, updates to your trailer and hauler can enhance the time you spend at the races.
With your racing rig, getting to the track and setting up your base of operation is as essential as making a solid pass down the dragstrip. Whether it be working in your pits under brighter lights, or sleeping more comfortably before eliminations day, your transportation and base of operation are as important as any other tool for your racing.
Manufacturers are incorporating a surprising amount of new features into the latest trailers and haulers rolling off the assembly lines these days. We talked to Alan Cape from Flying A Motorsports about some of the latest innovations and how they can benefit your racing operation.
LED Light Technology
This high-tech lighting is probably one of the most significant overall changes that have been incorporated into literally all trailers, toterhomes, and motorhomes manufactured in recent times. The light-emitting diode (LED) replaces the incandescent light bulb in everything ranging from workbench lights to high-powered outside pit lights. This change has been industry-wide.
“Practically every light fixture applied to trailers and in almost every motorhome produced is now LED lighting,” said Cape. “Not only do these use drastically less energy, but they are also far brighter and do not generate as much heat compared to the various lighting fixtures they replaced.”
“Not only is the advent of LED lights a bonus as a light source, but their use in brake and running lights also have the advantage of durability,” Cape continues. “They are more durable against vibration and rough rides. Compared to your typical round incandescent brake and taillights, the new LED lights are of a larger shape and size, which also increases safety.”
Top Trailer Trend: Carpeted Walls
Though it may not be a brand new concept, carpeting on the lower walls has become an interior option that is pretty much a standard on all trailers now. Cape explains that he is hard-pressed to see a custom racing trailer order come through without the carpet option.
“When it comes to our in-house ordering of a trailer just for general inventory, it always has the wall carpet option,” exclaims Cape. “It is just a no-brainer option to protect the walls. Everyone has a story related to something getting loose and scarring the trailer interior.”
Size And Shape
Since Flying A concentrates on sales to the motorsport consumer, we asked Cape about any trends out there with their hauler sales as related to racer purchases. “Customers have asked for shorter rigs or trailers, just to address the grey areas concerning length laws on the highway.”
On the trailer side of trends, Cape mentions that racers have gotten slightly more conservative in trailer size. Basically, he observes that racers just tend to carefully calculate out what is necessary when it comes to their car(s) and a pit vehicle floor plan. “That doesn’t mean we don’t still sell the big ones,” Cape laughs. “It is just a little trend of customers buying smarter.”
The size trend for motorhomes is just the slight opposite. Cape explains, “Many customers begin with a layout, yet fudge the length a little longer to get two bathrooms or accommodate slightly larger sleeping quarters in place.”
He continues, “So, the overall lengths of customers’ motorhome/trailer orders have not changed a great amount over recent years. The trend of bunk bed area and/or multiple bathroom options tell me more people are traveling together to races nowadays.”
Cape does add that motorhomes have all but replaced the manufacture of fifth-wheel style toterhomes. “The big, bad bumper-style hitches will handle pretty much anything that the goosenecks will,” he says. “The 38- or 40 -foot bumper pull trailers with semi-style axles and tires have been the hot ticket.”
Cape also notes that many changes in the new haulers are based on the quality of components. Many racers are favoring larger “residential” refrigerators and appliances for kitchen use.
“Power inverter technology is the big contributor there,” Cape explains, “Today, inverters can handle the bigger refrigerators, microwaves, and other appliances.”
We sell over ten different lines of trailers and haulers. I have always offered our suggestions to the strong and weak points of each kind. Some options are just a matter of cost versus quality equals value. – Alan Cape
On trailer applications, many companies have stepped up their quality game. Some of the mass-produced trailer brands were not selling cabinets because of the lack of available quality. The reputation got around between racers, and many were choosing to order cabinets separately to get a better quality aluminum cabinet and worktops.
Wheel-well cabinets are the new big thing for racers. The unused wall space located over the interior fender wells has become a prime addition for wide, yet not very deep cabinets that can still house a lot of equipment. Cape mentioned that as soon as a few trailer companies installed those, the word spread like wildfire, and everyone wanted that option.
Within the monthly Rig of the Month features here on Dragzine, Cape has always mentioned that some trailers described are a better match for local racers compared to those needed to travel across the nation. It’s a point he prides himself in when pairing racers with their budget and which toter and/or trailer best suits them.
Floors And Bathrooms
Two noticeable trends inside the motorhomes are the flooring and the bathrooms. “People definitely want more bathroom space,” Cape says.” Haulers with one tiny bathroom are mostly a thing of the past. Now, customers are almost unanimous on desiring a bath and a half or two full baths. They’re not mandatory, but more people expect them now.”
Upgraded floors are another trend. “You don’t see carpeting or linoleum within the motorhome lines any more,” Cape says. “They are pretty much all ceramic floors. Most people want ceramic now for the durability and ease of keeping them clean.”
On the trailer side, rubber, or “coin-style” flooring is requested more often in a trailer’s options list. Cape warns that many economy trailer manufacturers use an equally cheaper quality flooring. He advises anyone to accept a small amount of shrinking over time.
“I like to observe what happens with various trailer brands as over time and miles,” Cape adds. “An example is the flooring quality between trailer lines. I’m not afraid to tell people what I have seen and what to expect when they are shopping, whether it be floors, cabinets, or anything.”
As an example, there are some floors or other features Cape won’t even recommend. For example, there is one flooring that will just wad up under a race car’s tires. “I hope customers appreciate what we give thumbs-up or thumbs-down over,” he says. “We’re just trying to lend our experience.”
“Trailers average about 75- to 100-pounds per trailer length-foot in difference on a comparable trailer length between aluminum and steel construction.” Cape illustrates. “Everybody thinks there is a more significant deviation than that, but aluminum is not a considerable amount lighter.
More racers are hauling multiple cars or more pit vehicles, which now has them shopping for a lighter-weight trailer in an attempt to balance the overall load. But Cape adds that the less expensive steel trailers are by no means slowing down in sales.
“New-To-You” Trailers And Haulers
The used market for all racing units is moving at a strong, steady pace. “Our Cuba, Missouri location for Flying A Motorsports hosts a wealth of new and used hauler/motorhomes and trailers,” Cape adds. “With over 100-units on our sale lot at once, up to 20-percent of that can be trade-in/used motorhomes or trailers.”
Compared to its new model lines, Flying A has countless brands that come through its used sales lot. He mentions that he has spent years looking over trade-ins that have spent miles over the road. With that, he knows what to look for in specific models. He and his sales staff are not afraid to explain any strong or weak points with any used stock they offer.
“The used market is robust,” Cape says. “We will carefully inspect everything we trade-in and be up front with any would-be buyers on condition. Some imperfections we can upgrade. Many racers look for a deal where they can make improvements themselves. In any case, the used market is as strong as the new sales.”
Specific cabinetry to house weather stations, plus the addition of USB ports to charge laptops, cell phones, and more are a big trend in the options for trailers. Trailers equipped with their own stereo systems are also popular to help listen to a track’s PA system on race day.
The same goes for the motorhomes. As rapidly as technology changes in entertainment systems, so do the offerings within many new rigs. Surprisingly, a racer can get a return of investment within the value of their haulers by upgrading interior electronics as time goes by.
Another trend is the incorporation of flat-screen televisions, compact grills, and refrigerators within the saddle storage of a new motorhome. It is a given fact that once the race day is winding down, pit areas can turn into a social gathering rivaling any weekend campground.
As Many Shapes And Sizes As There Are Racers
Don’t be afraid to discuss what you want in a new or used trailer; chances are the option is offered by many different companies. Cape points out that due to better websites by manufacturers, many customers have a little more of an idea of what they want when they call. “However, most are willing to listen when we offer different options to get what they want ultimately,” he says.
Cape finishes, “We will have racers call with a shopping list of amenities for trailers and rigs; things they’ve seen in a racing friend’s unit. It’s no problem to listen to what they want and match it with various product manufacturers.”
Whether it be a well-lit pit area or the improved amenities of a new motorhome, the family and racing team become a better competitive unit when they are comfortable and working in the best surroundings possible.
A famous saying from the 1950’s claims that “getting there is half the fun.” It could very well be that no matter how serious you are about race day, safe travels in a comfortable hauler combined with a trailer that suits all your race day needs could contribute as much to turning on the win light as a perfectly prepared race car.