82 DECEMBER 2019 scca.com
Let’s make assumptions. First, we’ll say that your trailer has adequate capacity
to safely haul your autocross car, the axles
are of sufficient capacity, the bearings are
maintained, the tongue weight is correct,
yada yada yada. We’ll also figure that
you’re using proper tie-down equipment,
and well-engineered tie-down points on
the trailer. But as with so much in life, it’s
not the equipment that lets you down,
it’s the way you use it. To that end, let’s
look at how to strap your car to a trailer.
Let’s consider over-the-tire straps. This
method allows the car’s suspension to
move while towing down the road, and it
will undoubtedly help damp the trailer’s
movements, but it seems that this will
result in a certain amount of wear to the
car’s shocks from the constant movement.
On the other hand, locking the car down
will allow repeated movement through
a smaller range. Maybe it’s a wash.
With tying to the chassis, there’s plenty
to consider. Tying a car down going front-to-back is fine, but this doesn’t eliminate
side-to-side motion. Over a thousand-mile
trip, that car may migrate. Crossed straps
solve this, as triangles are magical things.
The concern with crossed straps, however,
is if a ratchet comes loose, the car could
shift sideways, loosening up other straps
in the process. This is never good.
Tying to the chassis is also complicated
by the arrangement of tie-down points on
the car. Tie-down slots in the front of the
rear tires or behind the front tires pretty
much dictate crossing the rear straps. To
that end, sometimes a hybrid solution is
the only one available, with straight straps
on one end and crossed on the other.
If you are dealing with factory tie-down
points, you have to find the tie-down points.
Sometimes they are obvious, accessible, and
usable, while other times they’re covered
by plastic plugs, placed somewhere you
can’t get to with the car on the trailer, or
are in otherwise unfortunate locations. For
a dedicated track-only car, you can largely
do whatever you want as far as tie-down
points. Rings, hooks, slots, whatever – just
put them somewhere you can get to.
In the 35 years I’ve been running National
Solo events, I’ve towed at least 13 different
vehicles. Let’s go through some highlights.
Conquests had loops on the front, but
nothing at the back. I looped a strap over
the rear cross-member but found that
the cross-member would saw through the
webbing in a few miles. A visit to the shoe
repair shop to get a leather pad sown over a
new strap, and we had a long-term solution.
The Neon was a bit of an adventure. It
had T-hook slots on the subframe in the
front, right under the front seats. It had
slots in the rear subframe just inside the
bumper. A bit of pondering resulted in
loading the car on the trailer backwards.
Second-generation MR2s are pretty easy,
as they have T-hook slots up front and wire
loops below the rear bumper. I used a chain
with J-hooks at the back of the car, and
ratchet straps on the front. The benefit of this
was that the chain was a fixed length, and
the car always ended up in the same location,
so the trailer balance never changed.
And, finally, J-hooks seem to fit in
Porsche jack points, and the BMW M2 hides
its T-hook slots in the plastic jack adaptors.
But no matter how you tie down your
car, just make sure it’s still on the trailer
when you get to the autocross event.
With a little knowledge, safely towing your autocross
car to events is easy | WORDS Paul Brown | IMAGES Philip Royle
Whether utilizing an enclosed (ABOVE)
or open trailer (BELOW), making sure the
straps are secure is essential – and they
should be checked every time you stop.