A trailer for towing your track car can be a great investment as you become more involved in motorsports. You’ll save wear and tear on your track vehicle, have more flexibility over what you bring to the track, and have an opportunity try out tracks further from home. But towing does come with some hazards.
Towing a vehicle can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before. But you don’t have to be nervous about towing your track car if you’re prepared. Here are the 5 biggest towing hazards to watch out for and how to guard against them.
1. Visibility Issues
The first thing you will notice when towing a trailer and track vehicle is the impact on normal visibility. Your rearview mirror may only be able to show you the front of the trailer you are towing behind you. Vehicle traffic and road features to the back and side of your vehicle may also be obscured in your side mirrors.
Because a trailer obstructs visibility to the rear and side of your tow vehicle, basic maneuvers like turns, lane changes and backing up will be more challenging. Without an adjustment to your regular driving habits, the lack of visibility can be dangerous.
There are three keys to overcoming the hazard of reduced visibility. First, adjust your driving. Signal for lane changes and turns earlier than normal to give yourself more time. You can also use larger aftermarket side mirrors designed for towing. Some versions clip on to your existing mirrors, others replace the towing vehicle’s original mirrors. Finally, when it’s time to back up or park, get help from a spotter who can get out and guide you safely through the maneuver.
2. Weight Issues
Weight is another major factor to think about when towing your track car. It will play an important role in whether you have a safe and successful tow. The curb weight of each vehicle and the trailer matters, yet so does the towing capacity of the tow vehicle and your hitching equipment, and the weight limit of the trailer.
The lowest-rated piece of equipment in your towing setup will determine how much you can actually tow while staying safe. An underpowered tow vehicle or a light-duty hitch can become a problem, leading to engine damage, equipment failure or an accident.
Managing the weight of your tow safely starts with gathering information and making a few simple calculations. VIN labels on your vehicle door jamb and trailer exterior will tell you the curb weight and gross vehicle weight rating of each vehicle and the trailer. Manufacturers also provide information about the maximum tow capacity of your vehicle and its engine and brake system.
3. Vehicle Response
The way a vehicle handles on the road is affected by its size, shape and weight. A loaded trailer will dramatically change the performance of your tow vehicle. It takes longer to get up to speed, further to come to a stop and more skill to negotiate twists and turns.
Think about the difference. A loaded tow setup is longer, wider, higher and heavier than the tow vehicle alone. Physics takes over and you have to deal with a less aerodynamic vehicle that has to work harder to overcome inertia and momentum.
Adjust how you would normally drive to deal with your tow vehicle’s altered response. Merge onto highways and pass slower vehicles safely by accounting for slower acceleration. Leave extra room ahead of you and apply brakes early with light gradual pressure for safe controlled stops. On downhills, avoid picking up excessive speed or riding the brakes, and consider downshifting to a lower gear. Be aware that a longer and wider vehicle also needs to more room to pass and must also make wider turns.
4. Driver Inexperience
As you progress in motorsports, you’ll grow more confident on the track—and you’ll also become more at ease with getting to the track with your trailer in tow. Driver experience is something that gets better with time, but it’s important to take extra care when you’re new to towing.
Lack of experience is mostly a problem when it is not taken into account by a driver. It’s dangerous to hop in a vehicle towing a loaded trailer without any preparation. You’ll lack an understanding of what to do and not to do, which can make small problems worse and lead to an accident.
Minimize the risk of your inexperience by educating yourself before you get behind the wheel. Ensure that you have the proper towing equipment and that it is properly set up, with the right hitch at the right height and angle, and with chains connected correctly with just the right amount of slack. Understand how common issues, such as trailer sway and blowouts can occur and how to deal with them. About a half-million accidents a year are due to trailer sway. Check the weather for high wind warnings and be mindful of narrow lanes and large passing vehicles. Avoid overcorrections that can make swaying worse. Check the tires before you go and if a blowout occurs, stay calm, pull out of traffic and gradually come to a stop.
5. Driver Inattentiveness
It’s always important to give driving your full attention when you’re behind the wheel. But the stakes are even higher when you have a track car in tow. The extra size and weight can make a mistake caused by a distraction more dangerous.
More than 3,000 individuals are killed in distracted driving incidents each year. Distractions leading to inattentive driving can vary. Examples include taking your hands off the wheel, looking down at a screen or getting lost in thought about something unrelated to the task at hand.
The right preparation can help minimize these distraction hazards. Plan out your route ahead of your trip to the track. Check for inclement weather, traffic, construction, detours, tricky turns and exits. Give yourself extra time to arrive. Motorsports events start early, so many drivers coming from a greater distance arrive the day before. Make sure you’re well rested and stop for breaks when needed. After an event you’ll likely be tired from a whole day focusing on the track, so consider staying the night in a nearby hotel and driving home fresh the next morning.
How to Protect Your Motorsport Investment
There’s a lot riding on your trailer when you’re bringing your track car to the track. Whether across town or across the country, accidents can cause damage your tow vehicle, trailer and track vehicle.
Many personal auto insurance policies exclude coverage for trailers and track vehicles. But with Lockton Motorsports Off-Track Insurance, you’re protected. Our coverage protects your track car from damage and theft while in transit, in storage and in the paddock.
Off-Track is an annual policy specifically for your non-licensed vehicles, and offers additional coverage options for your trailer, equipment and tools. You’re protected from:
- Physical damage while your car is stored or transported.
- Trailer overturn accidents while on the road.
- Damage during the loading or unloading process.
- Theft of your vehicle, trailer or equipment.
To be prepared on track day, it’s important to know if you regular policy will cover you. Learn how to check your policy for exclusions.
If your policy has exclusions for your car and trailer, don’t worry. Get Off-Track Insurance to help you protect your motorsports investment.