drivendaily New Reader
5/9/16 6:38 p.m.

For the past couple of years, I've been racing my Miata with a little Harbor Freight trailer behind it.

race support trailer

It's been pretty great ... but now I'm finally getting ready to get a real, grown-up, open trailer, with a support vehicle. I've pretty much decided that I'm going to go with a later 7.3 turbodiesel e-350 ... but haven't quite decided how to build it out.

Here's what I do know that I want:

  • hammock
  • small workbench
  • spares/tools bin
  • canopy
  • camping kitchen
  • laptop and camera gear

I'm looking for inspiration from other peoples' support vehicles. I want to make hillclimb races as hassle-free as possible, so that means it needs to cover camping and service completely. Please, show off your support vehicles!

Vigo PowerDork
5/30/16 9:14 p.m.

I like your idea but otherwise have nothing to contribute.

drivendaily New Reader
6/14/16 11:53 a.m.

Now that I've had a little bit of time to plan things out, I'm picking this up at the end of the month. Support Truck

I still haven't decided exactly what I'm doing with it, other than some 12v LEDs for the interior and a toolbox.

ultraclyde UberDork
6/14/16 12:31 p.m.

here's mine. it's a '96 7.3L PS F250, 2wd. Older than what you're looking at I imagine.

Not race support, more like cycling-sailing-dog-adventure support. Right now I'm running an Access brand soft tonneau that is mostly watertight but rolls up in about 20 sec to leave the bed open in case I need to put in oversize cargo. I keep a Rubbermaid type box in the back with tools, a couple additives for the fuel, a heavy duty 12v air compressor, 2 drawbars with common hitch balls, some work gloves, and some rags. The bed floor has commercial carpet cut to fit the bottom so I can throw luggage in and keep it clean or pull the carpet and haul gravel or whatnot.

The bike rack crossbars are simple 2" steel that secure by 2 bolts each. I keep the correct size wrenches in the glove box so I can pull the bars and throw them in the bed if I need to open up the cargo space.

I also added satellite radio and a bluetooth/ipod control radio because being bored on long trips sucks. Even with 230k miles the factory original seats are some of the most comfortable I've ever experienced over long distances. With weight in the back and on the hitch, it's a really comfortable riding vehicle.

I thought a lot abut camping out of the truck, but I don't really need to. I have a tent and a popup camper so one or other would be fine in almost any situation. But If I needed to, here's what I'd do...

Add a camper shell that has side open access panels and a ladder rack, but not vertical rear doors. Like this:

Reasons - secure sleeping, storage that's still relative easy to access through panels. The tailgate is too useful to give up for doors, plus the hinge up rear window gives some ventilation with rain protection if you're stuck inside. Speaking of, I'd outfit the side windows with removable screens and a way to prop/limit the opening of the doors. You get effective ventilation without bugs and shielded from rain. The roof rack is useful for overflow storage plus provides one good hammock anchor. A tall tire structure on a trailer and proper parking could give you easy camping hammock setup. The white color keeps the interior cool, but I'd consider painting it with Toyman's miracle RV paint too do even better. Some basic LED lights inside (there's a $20 set at Wally world) and a low sleeping platform with tool storage underneath might be on the list, or just take the hammock and a single air mattress in case you were forced into the truck.

drivendaily New Reader
7/17/16 8:39 p.m.

In reply to ultraclyde:

Awesome, but I've generally been looking at something a little bigger. There could be a lot of reasons, but trucks tend to be significantly more expensive than other options. It's never made sense to me, but I ended up picking up the e350 box truck I've been looking at for awhile. I'll start a proper build thread for it shortly.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
7/17/16 9:57 p.m.

Trucks are worth more because they're versatile and you can make money with them.

As for me, it's not so much a matter of "setting up" the support vehicle, as everything just goes in the bed. The bed's got a soft roll-up Truxedo tonneau cover on it. A van would be more of a challenge. One thing I did pick up is a set of interlocking hard boxes that can be filled with tools, fluids, etc but stay contained. They'd probably be very useful in a van. It was a Black Friday deal at HD - the small/medium/large version of this:

What does help is lists and tool rolls. I can prep for a track day in no time because I just grab what's on the list. Also, when I had an open trailer I had a tire rack on it. Made life a lot easier, tires take up a lot of room in a hurry.

drivendaily New Reader
7/19/16 8:42 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner:

That makes lots of sense, if you're going to use a truck for things other than racing. I have a running inventory list, but I always manage to forget something. Organization of parts/tools/consumables has been a big challenge (especially because I didn't have a real support vehicle) so everything ended up in bags. I like those hard boxes much much more.

I haven't had to deal with tires yet. At worst, I've had a set of tires on the car and a set of race tires that last me the season. Hillclimbs aren't particularly tough on tires, and we don't get road-race levels of seat time.

At this point, I have a big empty box that I can fill up with practically anything. I want to plan out as much as possible before stuffing it full of crap, though.

Box truck rear

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
7/21/16 5:32 p.m.

I wasn't recommending you get a truck - obviously, that ship has sailed! - merely commenting on why they tend to be more expensive.

Having the van dedicated is going to be nice :) On one of our races, we took a shop workbench and bolted it to the front of the trailer - inside. Gave us a good work space for when we needed to do something and we used the drawers for organization. Very handy if you have the length.

drivendaily New Reader
7/22/16 1:41 p.m.

I think we're on the same page here. Would you be willing to share an inventory list (if you haven't already)? I'd like to reorganize my inventory for the 2017 season, but I haven't been active with racing this year.

The only things I'm 100% certain that I need are:

  • Gaffer's tape
  • Zip ties
  • Rivnuts
  • Water bottle
  • Helmet
  • Fire suit
  • Gloves
  • Shoes
Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
7/22/16 2:39 p.m.

From memory, it's something like this:
- JIS screwdrivers (short and long)
- flat screwdriver (short and long)
- socket rails (1/4, 3/8, 1/2, extensions)
- ratchets (to match sockets)
- metric wrench tool roll (possibly SAE as well depending on the vehicle)
- electric impact gun (charged)
- bullnose and needlenose pliers
- crimping and stripping tools
- allen key set
- baggie of wire
- tape: electrical, F4, foil
- safety wire
- velcro strap
- brake bleeding kit
- blue towels
- latex gloves
- fluids: brake, coolant, oil
- spare brake pads
- The Orange Box (contains a range of organized fasteners, electrical terminals, rivets/rivnuts and specialty parts)
- rivet tool
- safety glasses and gloves
- QuickJack
- big piece of cardboard upon which to recline
- flashlight
- long screwdriver/prybar
- electrical tester - stuff for the driver :)

There's probably more, I don't recall.

drivendaily New Reader
7/25/16 11:26 a.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner:

After talking to a few other friends, I like the idea of color-coded bins. I've started to organize everything I need to pack into:

  • FILM
  • CAMP
  • RACE
  • MISC

I like the idea of being able to immediately identify where tools/supplies are. There have been a few times where I've needed to ask someone else to grab a specific part from the campground, and it'd be good to be able to say

> Grab the yellow bin of steering components.

than to instruct someone to,

> Find an outer right tie rod in the big bin ... or maybe in the black bag ... it might be in the bottom drawer of the toolbox ... I think.

former520 Reader
7/25/16 4:04 p.m.
drivendaily wrote: > Find an outer right tie rod in the big bin ... or maybe in the black bag ... it might be in the bottom drawer of the toolbox ... I think.

I may have resembled that exact statement a time or two. Bonus points go to having non-car guys friends helping that wouldn't know what they are looking at anyway.

pinchvalve MegaDork
7/25/16 4:41 p.m.

Was it a mobile slaughterhouse before (that's a thing, really) or used for asphalt coating?

Either way, I would look at Boating and RV catalogs for some thoughts/inspiration. Like couches that fold down from the walls and a table that installs into the floor in the center. I would also want a ramp system that would allow easy access to roll a heavy tool chest in and out.

Huckleberry MegaDork
7/25/16 6:00 p.m.

Do you want to see where this ends up? This is what a race weekend looks like for us these days. Double height 48' 2 car trailer with shop, RV for "camping" in, the chevy dually in the background to pull the trailer and I rode in on the bike because I sold all my own personal support vehicles to throw in on the team stuff.

drivendaily New Reader
7/26/16 3:00 p.m.

> In reply to Huckleberry:

I want to see the inside of the trailer quite a bit. I've been considering loading one of my motorbikes into the box truck, but haven't decided to commit to building a ramp yet.

I'm also interested in how you mounted that front splitter.

> In reply to pinchvalve:

Roofing company, which suggests that some kind of asphalt coating wasn't secured as well as it should've been and it rattled around in the box while driving down a bumpy road.

> In reply to former520:

I used that example for a reason. I've been there a few times. If you have a helper, you're one of the lucky ones. If you have a helper who knows which end of the wrench is the pointy end, you're living a life of luxury and excess. We feed our workers extremely well, and as an organization, try to remove as many blockers as possible for people who want to help.

I imagine every race team/organization tries to make their events as simple as possible, and to just focus on driving with occasional repairs, but we go to extremes.

This box is kind of huge, I'm realizing.

240z in e350

Our Preferred Partners