Trick Trailers

TRJ88 Trick Trailers 01 Trailer at Race (01) IMG_0176

He or She With the Most Trailer Toys Wins

The car trailer is a fixture in the racing world. As trailer use grows and sales of all kinds of transporters skyrocket, more and more racers are doing high-style hauling. At any venue from dragstrips to vintage road race courses, you’ll see trailers dressed up, inside and out, with graphics, chrome, checkered flag floors, custom paint jobs and all sorts of other goodies.

Race trailers have a dual personality. They have their functional character involving such things as getting a car aboard, cinching it down so it stays put and taking it safely to its destination. From highway mirrors to tie-down straps to hitch balls it takes a lot to make a trailer function well. But trailers also have a cosmetic character involving size, shape, design, color and decoration.

This month’s “trick trailer” belongs to Colin Comer, the owner of Colin’s Classic Automobiles in Milwaukee, Wis. Comer is a restorer, author, racer and collector who’s complete profile can be viewed at his website

The trailer is a 2010 Renegade ITS30 stacker trailer that’s pulled to a wide variety of hobby events with a Renegade 45’ motor coach. We’ll be looking strictly at the trailer today. It is a 30-foot-long racing style unit with a 16-ft. interior lift that allows carrying three cars inside, two at floor level and one on the hydraulically-operated lift above them. The interior features a clean, purposeful look with a very well thought out interior layout.

“To make it suit my needs, I installed Mac’s Tie-Down’s S-track throughout the trailer so we can use tire nets,” Colin told us. “I also installed the stowaway Warn winch, multiple cabinets, a five-horsepower air compressor in the loft (with air outlets plumbed throughout) and various Pit Pal Products items like shelves, a floor jack holder and a mini bike wheel cradle to hold our Honda Mini Trail. In addition, we installed a 30 x 12-ft. Arrow Awnings custom awning off the right exterior side. That is the best addition any racer can have on their trailer as it offers shade and weather protection for cars and crew at the track.”

The color scheme for the trailer is basic white, with polished diamond plate accents and aluminum trim throughout. All of the cabinets are white with aluminum trim and are neatly labeled with their contents. The sturdy cable-supported drop-down door at the rear of the trailer serves as the car entrance ramp. If three cars are being carried, the “upper deck” car is loaded first, fastened to the lift and raised so that a small car and a second car can be loaded “downstairs.” Colin and crew use over-the-tire straps to cinch the cars tight to the track in the floor. This method of securing by the tires with soft straps allows the car to ride on its suspension during transport and guarantees no damage to sometimes fragile or carefully painted chassis components. Colin even had special straps custom made for the 13-inch tires on his wife Cana’s Austin-Healey Sprite vintage race car.

The steel diamond plate lift has ramps and a center plate that are painted white to match the cross members. The trailer floor is covered with a black “coin pattern” vinyl, also used on the inside of the rear ramp door. One negative noted by Colin is that the glued-down vinyl can lift in hot weather. The best solution is to keep it protected from the sun.

A pair of shiny diamond plate ramps attach to the right wall with brackets. These ramps are needed to get the upper car on the lift, which sits on steel cross members that hold it up a few inches above the trailer floor. A fire extinguisher is also wall mounted nearby. Along the bottom of the wall are the wheel wells covered in polished diamond plate.

About three feet beyond the hoist is a green nitrogen tank and red rolling Snap-On toolbox it. The toolbox is fastened to the wall for transport with a fat tie-down strap but is easily wheeled outside at the race track. The nitrogen is used for race tires and topping off nitrogen filled gas shocks. Stowed next to the toolbox for transport are a trash container, 3-ton aluminum floor jack, US flag, drain pans and other items. A clock is on the wall above and, at the top of the wall, more overhead storage cabinets.

The front wall of the trailer features white baseboard cabinets with a black work surface on top of them. Several pieces of the stainless steel trailer furniture made by Pit Pal Products holds various lubes and spray cans. Overhead cabinets hold more equipment and the driver’s racing gear is stored in an upright clothing cabinet. The cabinets also house a satellite radio system and iPod connection that feeds speakers both inside and outside of the trailer. Another fire extinguisher is mounted in the front right-hand corner, near the service door.

The right wall beyond the door holds an aluminum ladder that takes you to the trailer’s upper deck. The spare trailer tire and wheel are mounted between the ladder and the wheel well. The wall has brackets for the custom awning framework that is erected on the outside of the trailer at the destination. The rear few feet of the wall hold the tie-down straps, which hang from a Pit Pal Products wall bracket. The remote push-button controller that raises and lowers the lift sits in a wall-mounted bracket.

To allow the third car to be raised on the lift, there is nothing in the upper part of the rear of the trailer, but in the front upper part there is a storage loft. It holds a well-secured 55-gal. drum of racing gas (to ensure that water-contaminated fuel doesn’t go into an expensive racing engine), plastic storage bins, the air compressor, extra racing tires, a mini-bike, quick-fill gas cans and other racing necessities. Overhead storage cabinets and lights are mounted on the upper sidewalls. Both 12V and 110V lighting is used throughout the trailer, and on the exterior there are dual halogen flood lamps on both the right side and rear of trailer, which Comer says are quite handy for late-night car prep at the race track.

Comer’s favorite thing about this trailer, as it is configured, is the ability to haul three cars in a 30-ft. length. “I do miss my 44-ft. trailer with its extra storage, heat, air-conditioning and on-board generator,” says Colin. “That one was fully self-contained, but overall this Renegade is a great trailer and it gets a lot of use. We are almost always on the road with it during the summer.”

Colin adds, “In a perfect world I’d have a trailer with a solid upper deck, an exterior lift gate and air-ride suspension. Unfortunately that would exceed the towing capacity of my coach. But with sensible loading and the storage we built into this trailer it really gets the job done.”

About John Gunnell 141 Articles
John “Gunner” Gunnell has been writing about cars since ‘72. As a kid in Staten Island, N.Y., he played with a tin Marx “Service Garage” loaded with toy vehicles, his favorite being a Hubley hot rod. In 2010, he opened Gunner’s Great Garage, in Manawa, Wis., a shop that helps enthusiasts restore cars. To no one’s surprise, he decorated 3G’s with tin gas stations and car toys. Gunner started writing for two car club magazines. In 1978, publisher Chet Krause hired him at Old Cars Weekly, where he worked from 1978-2008. Hot rodding legend LeRoi “Tex” Smith was his boss for a while. Gunner had no formal journalism training, but working at a weekly quickly taught him the trade. Over three decades, he’s met famous collectors, penned thousands of articles and written over 85 books. He lives in Iola, Wis., with his nine old cars, three trucks and seven motorcycles.

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