Life is a highway

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Submitted by Amber Bormann on 10/03/2020

If you have ever seen the 2006 movie, Cars you will know that one of the most common ways to transport vehicles is in 18 wheelers via major highways. They draw a lot of attention and it is necessary for these vehicles to take all the proper precautions and make sure that the car is safely packed. You don’t want your car to end up like Lightning McQueen sleeping on the highway. You may have passed them on the road before. Sometimes it may be a racecar and sometimes it may be a classic car, but no matter what type of car is being transported, it is probably being carried a similar way.

For years, NASCAR racing has been a big part of American culture. There is so much invested in each of the teams and in the cars themselves that it is necessary for them to be transported safely and properly. Although they are cars, because of their special features and their value, they cannot be driven like normal cars on the road. This being said, they have to be carefully packed for travel. In order to alleviate damage during the travel, they must be put in specialized haulers.

 An article from How It Works explains that “These haulers do much more than simply transport the cars; they function as repair shops, restaurants, meeting rooms, viewing platforms and storage facilities” (Team). The process that the workers have to go though in between hauls is very in depth. They have to pack and unpack a lot in order to make sure that everything is safe and ready to go for when they hit the road again. The article goes on to say, “Once [the racecar] gets back to base, every single item on board the hauler is removed, before being either cleaned or replaced and then loaded back on. This equates to around 10,000 items – comparable to packing and unpacking a four-bedroom house every week for 38 weeks a year. Without the haulers, the drivers would have no feasible way of transporting their cars, and would likely be ill-prepared for their next race” (Team).

Another difficult part of this shipping process is the fact that the haulers often have to stop by a home base and replace materials and sometimes even the car. Along the way, there is also a lot of stress on the drivers because of the precious cargo that they are traveling with. Another article about how NASCAR teams transfer cars says, “that means no aggressive driving and plenty of public relations work. Front Row's haulers, thanks to a sponsorship agreement, typically only stop at Love's Travel Stops for fuel and food. Inevitably, a crowd of the curious asks questions, takes photos and seeks driver hero cards. Even when driving, the CB radio is often noisy with other truckers asking questions and talking racing” (Miller). When first packed, in order to save space, the car specifications need to be modified. “Teams have to make huge adjustments just get the NASCAR machine in a transportable condition. The rear suspension is lowered well beyond NASCAR on-track specifications just so the car can fit in the hauler's upper section” (Miller).

Once at the destination, there is a lot of work to do to prepare for the race. The hauler has to be unpacked, the gear has to be checked and everything needs to be gone through with a fine-tooth comb. This process is repeated at the end of the race when everything gets packed up. Yet, the process is even more intense. Because of the damage that the car faces during the race and the beating that it takes, the body is a bit different that it was when it was first packed. The haulers have to make adjustments in order to make sure the car is properly packed for the drive.

There is so much that goes into the behind the scenes work that is never thought about while the car is on the track. People count laps but never really consider everything it takes to get the cars to and from the race itself. Besides the packing and hauling itself, there are also a lot of things that need to be considered once on the road. This is a costly venture and everything needs to be thought out carefully. However, one cannot always know all that may happen. For example, “Unexpected and impossible-to-plan-for mechanical problems are a regular part of the 40,000 miles that the Front Row teams and others ask from their haulers each season. Without those haulers and drivers, the sport comes to a halt. With them, NASCAR is able to crisscross the country at seemingly great ease” (Miller).

Another stressful part of the hauling process is the timeframe and deadlines that the drivers must meet. The competition means that there is no margin of error and the car cannot ever arrive late. In an article titled, The People Behind The NASCAR Haulers says, “The NASCAR hauler drivers look after the trucks and their cargo. That’s why they usually devote twice the time to transport the cars. They count in extra time in case of break downs or on accident that could change their routes” (Dobrinova). Outside of this pressure is the added stress of the value of all the goods you are transporting. The NASCAR industry is expensive.

 The shipping and hauling itself costs a lot. This includes paying the workers, required maintenance of the rig as well as gas and other general travel expenses. Apart from all this is the cost of the materials themselves. This article goes on to say, “Probably the scariest thing about this job is how much equipment you are actually transporting. When we see the bright and colorful NASCAR haulers, we don’t always think about the value of whole cargo inside. Most NASCAR teams value the contents of a truck at around $2-3 million. Some insure it for as high as $5million, where every single detail and spare part adds up to the total. Even the gear for the crew on the race day. If one piece of equipment is missing when the hauler gets to the final destination, guess whose fault it would be? Not the guy who took out the part, but the driver’s who is not aware of what he carries in his truck” (Dobrinova).

Overall, there is a lot that goes into the process of vehicle transport. This is especially true when it comes to precious cargo like race cars. It is interesting to note how much goes into the glamorized races that spectators actually see. So, keep this in mind the next time you pass a rig carrying a car on the road and keep driving like life is a highway.

Submitted by Amber Bormann on 10/03/2020

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