Jody Schmeisser of Pit Pal Products (www.pitpalproducts.com) was a pioneer in creating storage products for racing trailers. In the ‘70s, while still in high school, he and his friend Dave DeVito began bracket racing at the local drag strip. Soon, their love of racing had them looking for new thrills and they moved up to Super Gas competition, then graduated to IHRA Factory Mod and NHRA Comp Eliminator classes.
Schmeisser and DeVito opened S & D Race Cars, where they quickly began to build machines that took six NHRA National “Best Engineered” Awards. They won the U.S. Nationals in 1988. Later, the two fabricators went into the Pro-Stock Truck class.
While working on their racing cars, Schmeisser and DeVito noticed their workspace at the track was growing cluttered with oil bottles, aerosol cans and other things. To fix this, they fabricated some shelves and racks designed for mounting to the doors of their race trailer. A trailer door cabinet became one of their first products.
S & D moved away from chassis fabrication and designed and built a new line of trailer cabinets. Pit Pal Products formed in 1982. Today, the company makes hundreds of storage products that come in handy in race trailers, garages, race shops and homes.
The company manufactures everything at its 12,000-sq.-ft. plant in northeast Illinois. “We have over 600 parts,” Schmeisser said. “They’re pretty much all storage solutions, mainly for the motorsports industry. We absolutely build them for both the big folks and the small folks. We have all different types of customers.”
Schmeisser noted that Grumpy Jenkins, now a good friend of his, used Pit Pal products in his engine dyno room and his engine shop. “He used our stands, slings, spark plug caddies and all sorts of stuff. I got to know him when I bought engines from him. I raced using his motors.”
Pit Pal’s most popular products are likely “wall organizers,” according to Schmeisser. These are fold-down work trays that come in quite handy inside a trailer. “They allow you to store aerosol cans, pump sprays and oils. You can put an organizer on the wall of your trailer or even on the door. They really keep things organized. A lot of our ideas come from our own racing or watching races.”
New products are added to the mix almost every year, and the company’s distribution network stretches over the whole world. “We try our best to come up with new products, and some are things that customers ask us to create for them,” Schmeisser said. “They have needs of their own. And at the track, when I attend a race, I’ll just watch the teams and look at all the inconveniences they’re dealing with. Then, I’ll design some fixes for my fellow racers.”