The great thing about SUVs is you have a full cargo compartment’s worth of lockable storage for the tools and other valuables you take to the track. The bad news is that whatever is stored inside the car is usually dirty, and often smells like rubber or petrochemicals, which can spoil a nice interior of the same vehicle you also use for family trips.

That’s what makes a pickup truck so valuable and handy for pulling your car to the track. The dirty stuff stays outside, so the interior stays clean. By the same token, any valuables like tools, jacks, wheels and tires, are easy prey for nefarious types.

You need to find a way to put those things under lock and key, and you really have two options on a pickup: a camper shell or a tonneau cover. There are lots of different kinds of tonneau covers, from fabric to fiberglass and everything in between, but the sliding metal roller top cover from Retrax is a good choice for racecar tow vehicle. It provides the locking storage you need and can hold up to 300 pounds on top of it. What’s more, the sliding tonneau can lock in any position along its path of travel, so you can carry things like a standup paddleboard and still lock it up if you have to leave the truck unattended.

Installation of the Retrax tonneau is pretty straightforward, easy, even. I rate it a one wrench job on a scale of five wrenches. In fact, it only takes one socket wrench, one screwdriver and one Allen wrench, and that last tool comes with the cover kit. It only takes a morning to install it, but you will need a friend to help you lift the assembled cover up from the ground and onto the rails of the cargo bed. Here’s how the puzzle goes together.

- Advertisement -
The kit arrives with just three pieces to assemble before installing it in the pickup bed.
The cover ships with a nylon block that keeps the cover, which is spring-loaded to help it unfurl once it’s installed, from unrolling during shipment. Unscrew the bolt holding in place and remove the plastic block.
The cover also comes with a nylon tube to protect the ends of the cover in shipping. It needs to come out, too.
There’s a block and a nylon tube on both sides. Remove them from the right and the left.
It helps to have a block to support rear of the slide rail while you attach it to the box at the front that holds the rolled up door.
The slide rail attaches to the side of the box at the front with two screws.
You’ll need to assemble both sides before you can lift it up and onto the bed rails. It helps greatly to pull the roller door out a little bit so you can slide the rails over the rollers on the sides.
Here you can see the two screws that hold the side rails to the door housing. It’s a brilliantly simple design, especially considering how strong the roller top is.
The front of the rails have one Allen head screw that holds them down to the roll-up box.
Once you have the rails assembled and fastened to the roll-up box, you can use the foam wrap used for shipping to protect the finish while peeling off the protective plastic film.
The part of the installation that stings a little is drilling a drain hole in the right front area of bed. There was already drain hole in the left front of the bed of the 2015 GMC it’s going into.
To keep the hole we drilled from rusting, we splashed a little undercoat in the opening. It’s a close match to the factory spray-on bedliner.
Here’s where you need a second pair of hands, to help mount the box and rails onto the pickup bed rails.
The drain tubes included in the Retrax tonneau kit slip through the holes in the bed to drain collected water onto the ground.
The tonneau rails attach to the pickup bed rails with aluminum clamps that tighten in place with a socket wrench.
The clamps can be retightened periodically to keep things in place.
Image courtesy of Brett Becker

4 COMMENTS

  1. This is good information but I might also add if you are able to lock your tailgate, do so as they are being stolen and ones with a back-up camera are being sold for $1000 and up.

  2. Yep, that’s a real problem everywhere, Ralph. You can’t tell from the photos, but this truck does have a lockable tailgate.

  3. As the author stated, there are a variety of products out there. When securing expensive gear in the bed, I’ve chosen a Diamondback cover https://diamondbackcovers.com/pages/compare-covers It doesn’t have the same adjustment as the Retrax but the HD version is nearly 1/8″ aluminum, will hold 1600lbs and has deadbolt style locking mechanisms and is very water tight. It is well suited to customization and additional mounting attachments too. Downside is that it doesn’t work with a 5th wheel hitch.

    Thanks for the post, every truck owner and race driver spends time thinking about this I’m sure.

  4. I have essentially the same thing with a Roll n’ Lock cover, bought new in 2001 and used 19 years and 288,000 miles without a problem, other than a plastic cover for the lock hole breaking off occasionally from my overuse. I call Roll N’ Lock and to this day, they still send me a new one for free!

Join the Discussion