This article first appeared in the January, 2017 edition of SportsCar Magazine. SCCA members can read the current and past editions of SportCar digitally here after logging into their account; To become an SCCA member and get SportsCar mailed to your home address monthly in addition to the digital editions, click here.
A half season of use later, we look at the SCCA Solo department’s new tow rigs to see how they’ve fared
In June 2016, SCCA announced a partnership with Chevrolet, where Chevy would become the official truck of the SCCA. On its face, this might not seem to affect the membership; the reality, it turns out, is quite different. You see, this venture brought with it new Chevy trucks for SCCA’s Solo department, meaning the Tire Rack National Solo Series equipment trailers would traverse the country behind Chevy Silverados. If those trailers didn’t make it to their destination, thousands of SCCA’s most diehard autocrossers would be left in the lurch.
There’s one person who knows this reality more than anyone, and that’s SCCA Project Manager Clancy Schmidt, since his driving accounts for half of the miles logged by SCCA’s Solo department. “I tow about 35,000 miles a year for the National Solo Series,” says Schmidt, who also drove a semi for SCCA Pro Racing’s Formula 4 series this year. “As a racer myself, I tow to three or four road races a year in my own truck pulling my own 20-foot enclosed trailer.”
The trailers the Solo department pulls to more than 20 events nationwide are not small. “For Solo, we now have three trailers,” Schmidt explains. “The Timing and Scoring trailer is 28-feet long and weighs about 16,000lbs. It’s a nice dual-axle trailer with electric brakes and spread axles. The trailer we take for tech is also 28-feet long, but depending on how it’s loaded, it’s around 14,000lbs. We pull these two trailers with 2016 Chevy Silverado 3500HD Crew Cab duallys with the 6.6L turbo-diesel. The Match Tour/RallyCross trailer is 20-feet long and weighs about 10,000lbs loaded. We pull this with a Chevy Silverado 2500HD four-wheel-drive Crew Cab diesel.”
When it comes to truck selection for towing, Schmidt says the priority is, quite simply, choosing a rig that will get you where you’re going. “Reliability is foremost,” says Schmidt. “Think about it – were the Solo timing trailer to show up a day late, or not at all, it would really mess up a major Solo weekend.”
Having the right equipment, Schmidt says, is vital. “I’ve towed with equipment that was way too inadequate,” he admits. “It’s dangerous and it’s stupid.” Too little truck for the job at hand is something Schmidt, who used to own a company that produced high-end trailers, staunchly advises against.
“I’d say for towing anything over 10,000lbs you should seriously consider a dually,” he says. “There is less stress on the truck and less stress on the driver. You don’t have to chase it all over the road, and you have decent brakes. It’s way safer.”
For many enclosed trailer loads Schmidt sees SCCA members pulling, he advises against a half-ton truck for the same reason: safety. Once you’ve stepped up to the three-quarter-ton or one-ton truck, then you can start looking at other options. “Heated seats are nice,” Schmidt laughs, “but A/C seats are the sweetest thing.”
SCCA’s Chevy Silverado trucks, Schmidt notes, have all the bells and whistles. “I love the SiriusXM radio and really love the navigation system. The seats are comfortable for an 11-hour day – twice a year we work 12 hours a day for a three-day weekend and then put together four 11-hour driving days to get to the next event.”
But in talking to Schmidt, what was possibly the most telling was an offhand comment that meant the world. “The seats are comfortable, the mirrors are good, the trucks are quiet, they ride great, and the brakes fantastic,” Schmidt sums up. “I’m a Ford guy and, frankly, I love these Chevys.”
Words by Philip Royle
Photo Courtesy of Chevrolet