Over time racecar drivers become inherently good at collecting stuff, extra wheels, spare engines, etc. If they’re really good, they collect lots of trophies. Some people refer to all that extra racing stuff simply as junk. Whether you call it “junk” or “vital spares,” that “stuff” has to go somewhere. At my house, Mrs. Krider is more concerned with storing Christmas decorations in the garage than she is about storing fuel jugs and used racing tires. As our race team expanded, we started collecting all sorts of gear that needed a place to live between race weekends. That sent us on a hunt for a storage solution.
Besides being junk collector/racecar drivers, we hate to spend money on stuff other than specifically making our racecars faster, which means renting a storage shed was out of the question. Nobody wants to spend money on rent when they can use that money for tires. In a search for a more frugal storage solution, we determined that an intermodal storage container would meet the team’s needs. These containers are often referred to as conex boxes, which is a military term for “container express” units first used in the Korean War. These containers are self-contained, come with a solid floor, walls, roof, are weather proof and include large doors that can be locked up tight. Made of metal, these units are used in circulation for approximately 10-12 years for shipping goods across the globe before they are sold for other uses.
Desperate for storage, we at Double Nickel Nine Motorsports found a good deal on a conex box and had it delivered and dropped off next to our shop. There are options to rent these boxes monthly for around $250, but over time — just 10 months — you will pay for the cost of the entire box, so we bit the bullet and bought our box outright. The box arrived empty, which meant if we really wanted to take advantage of the storage space, we needed to add some shelving.
These boxes are large enough to hold an entire car. In years past, we had a longer box that stored two of our Honda Challenge racecars. The only trick is you need to build a ramp to get the car up into the conex box. We found that the Race Ramps we used for our car trailer were just the right height to drive a car easily into a conex box. But for our new box, it was purchased to store spare parts, not spare cars, which meant we needed shelves.
Shelving, as simple as it looks, can make your pocketbook very light if you are not careful. We shopped around for a while and settled on a combination of industrial shelving — something you would find at a Costco or Home Depot — and some lighter, less-expensive shelving for smaller items. The shelf units went into the conex box with ease and we lined both sides of the box with lots of shelves for tons of storage options.
Because our team competes in different cars in different forms of motorsports, keeping our spare parts organized is challenging. Using a simple label maker and designating a row or column of shelves for a particular car makes finding things easier. When we can, we like to press the “easy” button on our team as much as possible.
Besides the huge metal box we had delivered to the shop, we purchased many smaller plastic boxes to store smaller spare parts. These small boxes are a key component in helping the team easily take much-needed spare parts from the storage container to the car trailer for a weekend race. There is no point in having spare parts at home when your car is broken at a race track 200 miles away.
These smaller boxes that travel with the team can quickly become filled with lots of random small parts. As small as they are, they are still immensely important to the success of the team, which is why we label each box with a detailed list of what exactly is inside that box. This helps us save lots of time when we have a problem on grid. When you need a tiny Honda igniter for a distributor, you need it fast. The label on the box tells you just where to find it.
For wheels/tires stored in the conex box, I use a tire crayon to provide details for which cars the tires are for. Using shelves to store tires may seem like overkill, however tire manufacturers have indicated they do not want unmounted tires stacked on top of each other more than six tires high. Using shelves keeps your stacks below six. If the tires are mounted on wheels, go ahead and stack them to the clouds, however, the tower of tires will eventually fall — maybe on you — and it’s hard to press the clutch pedal with a broken leg.
Our storage bin holds all kinds of important racing stuff, spare parts, tools, tires, team infrastructure — gas cans, flags, radios — and it does it in a weatherproof way that we can easily secure. With the right padlock and the way the doors enclose it would be challenging for someone to break in and steal a bunch of our prized half-used Yokohamas. However, my claim that this box is secure is not a challenge for the local meth users to try to prove me wrong. In the end, anything can be defeated.
We have not bothered to run power for lights to our conex box — rumor has it that would require a building permit — which means at night when we need something a flashlight is certainly required. My recommendation is if you get a box with dark paint, take the time to paint the interior a light color prior to stuffing all of your spares inside just for ease on the eyes. These things get dark! So, if you have a pile of gear that needs a home, your future storage solution could be slowing coming across the ocean right now filled with flat screen televisions, bottles of Viagra or … victims of human trafficking — try not to buy that one. Happy organizing!