When you are a true racecar driver, it means you are no longer playing with your street car during track days. You are all in. You have a caged, non-street legal racecar with a log book built for one purpose: to go fast. This also means you need the added infrastructure of a truck and trailer. If you are budget-minded, then you are looking for a good deal on a used trailer. Trailers are pretty robust, so if you are willing to put in a little elbow grease, you can get one cheap and then upgrade it to your liking.

Car trailers don’t have a lot of moving parts, so a used trailer is a great bargain. We are going to restore this one into what we consider race team shape.

We had a no-frills open car trailer that was rusting away in my brother’s side yard. I made his wife’s day when I agreed to tow it out of her yard. Then we began work on restoring the trailer. Two things we knew we needed to ensure were solid were the axles and the wiring. Everything else we wanted to do was cosmetic.

You will find after years of use, most car trailers have absolutely thrashed wiring. We decided to delete all of the wiring and start from scratch to ensure no future electrical problems.

We gutted the trailer’s wiring and decided to replace the brake/tail lamp assemblies with new, modern LED units. These are brighter and pull less voltage. For safety we also decided to add some side marker lights to the trailer to ensure people could see us towing through intersections. Since we were wiring in new lights anyway, we decided we should add some white work lights for loading and unloading cars at night (which is common after long tows to tracks after a work week).

Car trailer ratings are based on their axles. Going beyond the trailer’s weight rating will result in catastrophic situations on the side of the road. We decide to replace all of the bearings and hubs to ensure we make it to the track successfully.

We replaced all bearings, hubs and electric trailer brakes just to start from scratch. We inspected the axles carefully to ensure we would not have any issues. We inspected all of the leaf spring parts to ensure nothing was cracked. Trust me, you don’t want trailer problems while trying to get to races. You can’t win races if you don’t show up on time for qualifying. And working on trailers on the side of the highway is dangerous business.

Open car trailers don’t have any storage for straps, tools, etc., so we decided to add a tongue box too keep things tidy. This also would be where we would eventually mount a battery to operate an electric winch.

We wanted to upgrade the simple open car trailer with a few amenities for convenience. We knew we wanted more D-rings placed throughout the trailer for tying down different racecars. We wanted a rack for carrying extra wheels and tires. We wanted that tire rack to have the ability to lock the wheels in place so we could enjoy a dinner on the road without worrying about stuff disappearing from restaurant parking lots. Along the lines of storage and locking up things, we wanted to add a tongue box for keeping things safe and organized. We also wanted to add a winch on the front of the trailer for ease of putting cars on the trailer.

Trailers are for racecars, and racecars break, which means getting non-running racecars back on the trailer to make the trip home can be problematic. To solve this problem, we installed an electric winch on the trailer.

The only real problem with the original trailer was the amount of rust on it. It wasn’t enough to deteriorate the metal, but if we painted over it, we knew the rust would come right back. We stripped the trailer and sandblasted the entire thing to bare metal. Then it was time to lay down some paint.

After we welded on a tire rack, we laid down coats of blue paint to keep the rust away.

Once it was bare metal, we added primer and then painted the trailer. The trailer was starting to come together and look like something we wouldn’t mind towing to the track. We added a few other small tricks to make the trailer easy to use. One was two powerful magnets on the back of the trailer to store the clips that hold the ramps in their storage place. These clips can easily be misplaced and then the ramps will fall out on the road during the drive home. To avoid this, we added these magnets to hold the clips in an easy to remember and easy to access place.

We painted our wheels and slapped on brand new tires. Tires make all the difference when it comes to actually making it to an event when pulling a trailer.

I’ve had enough tire trouble over the years to know you need brand-new trailer tires on any trailer. We also purchased another spare wheel and created a mount under the front of the trailer where the spare tire would be safe from the sun in its storage position. Sun plus tires that sit for long periods of time equals blowout.

Here is the final product with new LED lights for tail and brake lamps as well as white work lights.

We put on brand-new safety chains, and since we added a battery in the tongue box to run the electric winch, we went ahead and added an electric tongue jack for ease of lowering the trailer on a ball hitch. We had not only restored the trailer, but upgraded it as well.

With the trailer restoration complete, we loaded up a Honda Challenge car, threw some spare tires up in the new tire rack and were ready to roll to the next race.

All the trailer needed next was — of course — some stickers. With some Krider Racing and Double Nickel Nine Motorsports decals in place, we were ready to roll to the next race. We had spare tires, lights and everything we needed for a successful tow to the track. All that was left to do was roll the car off the trailer and win a race.

Image courtesy of Rob Krider

Join the Discussion