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Technical Does anybody flat tow racecars anymore?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by wheeldog57, Sep 9, 2019.

  1. wheeldog57
    Joined: Dec 6, 2013
    Posts: 1,560


    I have been considering flat towing the roadster to an event coming up next year. Is it even legal to flat tow cars? If so, what are the standards? I have a towbar, a strong tow vehicle, and the want to do this. Do I need lights on the back of racecar? Sign on back of car " car in tow"?
  2. H380
    Joined: Sep 20, 2015
    Posts: 416

    from Louisiana

    Check your state laws. Everyone is different.
    loudbang likes this.
  3. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 25,083


    Depends on the states you will be towing in. Normally yes to all the above and most states it has to be registered as a vehicle OR trailer, camp trailer etc. and MAYBE brakes activated from the tow vehicle. Some states nobody in it while towing some states MUST have somebody behind the wheel.
  4. DDDenny
    Joined: Feb 6, 2015
    Posts: 12,845

    from oregon

    I think the last time I saw a racecar being flat towed was the day I threw away my rotary telephone.;)
    I sure miss those days, really dig seeing those old photos of Willys coupes and 55 Chevys, etc. heading to the dragstrip on a towbar.
    Texas Webb likes this.
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  5. I flat towed my last stock car in 1984... I made up a light bar that I could lash to the rear kicker bars. I was fortunate to be close to where I raced.
    loudbang likes this.
  6. Stooge
    Joined: Sep 9, 2015
    Posts: 372


    I didnt see it in motion, but i came across this studebaker truck flat towing a crossley yesterday outside of a show
    20190908_123927.jpg 20190908_123947.jpg 20190908_124006.jpg
  7. MoparTobi
    Joined: May 26, 2014
    Posts: 52

    from Macon, Ga

    Motorhomes flat tow all the time.
    kidcampbell71, egads, dan31 and 2 others like this.
  8. H380
    Joined: Sep 20, 2015
    Posts: 416

    from Louisiana

  9. ccnviper
    Joined: Sep 9, 2019
    Posts: 2


    Its funny you asked this my friend still flat tows his 57 has been doing it for the last 40 years all over from Maryland Jersey etc I myself still have my free wheelers and tow bar and the tow tabs on my 55 we are in NY
    wheeldog57 and loudbang like this.
  10. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 23,913

    Jalopy Joker

    needs current registration and insurance
    Cosmo50, gimpyshotrods and loudbang like this.
  11. 56sedandelivery
    Joined: Nov 21, 2006
    Posts: 5,906


    It's only been four or five years since I FINALLY sold my tow bars and towing hubs (2 sets of each). I thought I'd NEVER get rid of them, even as CHEAP as I listed them for. Both sets of towing hubs went to HAMBERS (I hope they're using them), the tow bars went to locals who wanted to flat tow their hunting Jeeps ($5.00 each, and I was only asking for $10.00); dang cheap people. The last time I actually flat towed a race-car, was my 56 Chevrolet Pro Bracket car, getting on a Washington State Ferry to go to Bremerton Raceway, and the guy at the ticket booth did't realize the car behind "me" was "mine" too; he had to chase us down in the ferry lanes to collect more $$$. I've heard lots of stories about flat towing accidents and incidents, but I never had any; I NEVER did try to back up however. Now I have a trailer, if I ever finish rebuilding it. I am Butch/56sedandelivery.
    loudbang and wheeldog57 like this.
  12. Jimbo17
    Joined: Aug 19, 2008
    Posts: 3,603


    Back in 1964 I had a good friend who towed his C/MP 1963 Chevrolet all the way for Stamford, Connecticut to Indy for the Nationals and his tow car was an old Buick Station Wagon.

    I thought he was crazy because flat towing sometimes leads to problems and the distance they towed the race car was thousands of miles round trip but they made without any problems.

    loudbang, das858 and wheeldog57 like this.
  13. chevy57dude
    Joined: Dec 10, 2007
    Posts: 5,170


    The Chevy has tow tabs. Towed it to a show with the El once. I'm gonna say trailers are better.
  14. wheeldog57
    Joined: Dec 6, 2013
    Posts: 1,560


    Thanks fellas for the input. The nostalgia look is what I was going after. I guess I could have the same affect with a trailer. Am only going 300miles round trip. We will see. . .
    loudbang likes this.
  15. I highly recommend tow hubs on the rear. :)
    loudbang likes this.
  16. tjm73
    Joined: Feb 17, 2006
    Posts: 3,315


  17. RJP
    Joined: Oct 5, 2005
    Posts: 1,264

    from PNW

    back when I was doing my car thing, 25hrs a day 8 days a week, I carried an adjustable tow bar and two sets of towing hubs and a set of olds tornado rims. 2500 miles was my longest flat tow. one thing I did learn, tow car must be ass heavy. I used s chevy suburban, all that glass made for a heavy rear. sure beat dragging an empty trailer every where.
    Old wolf and loudbang like this.
  18. s55mercury66
    Joined: Jul 6, 2009
    Posts: 3,748

    from SW Wyoming

    If you run a lot of caster in the car, it sucks backing up. The wheels will flop one way or the other pretty easily, so it helps to have someone in it help with the steering.
    loudbang likes this.
  19. denis4x4
    Joined: Apr 23, 2005
    Posts: 3,351

    from Colorado


    I have tow bar tabs on the roadster and they do come in handy from time to time.
    loudbang likes this.
  20. Much worse with stock cars since they are left-turn only. It doesn't behave like a street car and the steering wouldn't always return on a sharp-ish turn. I could push the car in the pits by myself, going left. If I needed to go right, it took 4 big guys to push it against the spool and stagger.
    X-cpe and loudbang like this.
  21. RmK57
    Joined: Dec 31, 2008
    Posts: 1,207


    In this day and age with 28 ft. stacker trailers pulled by a Freightliner M2, a 16 ft. open car trailer is very nostalgic.
    squirrel, loudbang, egads and 2 others like this.
  22. The tow vehicle needs to be much heavier than the vehicle being towed. I own several trailers. however I still on occasion flat tow. last year When I was bailing hay. I flat towed my 66 GMC behind my tractor with my hay bailer hooked to the GMC. that way I had my pickup with me. Yes folks have wrecked flat towing. they also have wrecked pulling trailers. Heck they wreck just driving.
    charleyw and chevy57dude like this.
  23. I have not seen any one flat tow a race car in 20 years or so.
    I do see people flat tow their daily drivers behind their motor homes all the time.
    If you do flat tow with a car do not forget to pull the drive shaft.

    Al "Suicide" Sanders told me about flat towing his NASCAR sportsman to Daytona form central N.Y. in the mid 50's.
    He slept in a sleeping a sleeping bag in a farmers field.
    He started 43rd got to 12th and blew the engine.

    Al before he passed
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2019
  24. badvolvo
    Joined: Jul 25, 2011
    Posts: 393


    I'm doing it next year to a few local races. I have a 36 chevy truck with sbc. It's small to pull my trailer, but it will pull the 40.
    I've been flat towing my jeep for years, just got back from a 1350 mile round trip.
    loudbang likes this.
  25. Use to flat tow my purchases from all over and out of state.....Chrysler New Yorkers with Hemis still in them a time or two. Took good front runners and made sure to grease up the front....and loose the drive shaft. Considering flat towing the 1939 behind my 1940 sedan to a show in the future.
    kidcampbell71, AHotRod and loudbang like this.
  26. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 3,893



    In the Summer of 1960, we were in our final stages of building/racing our first hot rod/drag racer. (early September would be the 59th year for the U.S. Nationals) When we were about to finish getting our first edition 283/6 Stromberg carb SBC Willys Coupe built, we went to our local expert muffler man/welder. He already made the complete muffler/header down pipe system, so he was well aware of the Willys Coupe.

    He had a specialty of making very sturdy trailer hitch applications for any vehicle. We never had one before, so he designed one to fit under the rear bumper of the 58 Impala. It was a solid hitch with a removable ball. But over time, that hitch and ball saved the Impala rear bumper and fenders countless times from careless drivers and parking people.

    We were lucky that we only lived about 2 miles from Lions Dragstrip. When we finished the first edition (283 w/Strombergs) in our 1940 Willys Coupe, that was the first time we towed it to Lions for measurement and weight. It was towed behind my brother’s 58 Chevy Impala. The turns were sort of funny, as the Willys Coupe did not make the sharp turns well. We had to remember to make sweeping turns and not normal turns. Luckily, we never had to back up during the whole towing scene. We lined up the Willys, hooked up the tow bar, and backed up the Impala to fit the ball hitch.

    Since the Willys Coupe was always located in the rear backyard extra garage we converted, we just fired it up and backed up to the street, aligning it to the ready and waiting Impala. We could have driven the Willys Coupe to the drags as it was street legal with capped exhaust pipes, but it was just easier to take everything in the trunk of the Impala towing the Willys. Everyone during this time did the same thing we did. Towing their cars to the drags, a quick change of tires, a little prep work and the car was ready for racing.

    It was the handling of the rear towing vehicle that made us think about getting a flat trailer for the Willys Coupe. But, friends told us that the trailer, while keeping the Willys Coupe pristine on longer tows, would handle worse than just towing the Willys. So, that theory was put to rest. Our long term plan was to get a station wagon to tow the Willys Coupe to Detroit in September for the U.S. Nationals. But, that was as far as we got in August, 1960.

    upload_2019-9-14_3-54-9.png upload_2019-9-14_3-55-16.png
    In 2017, when I went to the pre-set up days of the original Lions Dragstrip Museum, I was amazed at what I saw in one of the drag racing rows of cars. A 1941 Willys Coupe, painted a primer red, black wheels, aluminum floor boards and a couple of bucket seats. Behind the whole set up, along the wall, was a 671 SBC sitting on a cart, ready to go in the Willys. The one thing that struck me in the head was below the front end. There on the floor was an exact copy of the tow bar that we had made at our friend’s welding/muffler shop.
    At first sight, I thought it was our old Willys Coupe with a new front end. (single 41 grille vs dual 40) The last time I saw our Willys Coupe was after Atts Ono and I took it to a scrap yard in Wilmington, near Lions. It was the last goodbye the day after our accident. Tow hitch and all, it was sitting by the chain link fence, just inside of the scrap yard.

    We originally thought someone would buy the completed Willys body and frame as they were very complete and pristine. Only the front bumper and middle part of the twin grilles was slightly dented. Everything else was in pristine condition, but we had to leave it there…my brother’s orders and request.

    The owner of the Price Transfer Automobilia had this 1941 Willys Coupe sitting in a drag race area of the whole complex. My mind was whirling back to August 1960 and thoughts of this car being resurrected was spinning around. Then I realized that the owner has the biggest collection of Willys Coupes and Sedans in the USA, so it was one of his new projects. But…could it have been???

    These two young guys took off on one of the first USA drag racing tours back in 1960 (towing their race car and trailer…) and somehow, they became big name stars of drag racing !!!
    Boy, that would have been fun, towing the 1940 yellow Willys Coupe back to Detroit in September 1960. Then after a strong competition event, driving home to go back to high school by the end of the week. Going to a hot rod drag racing event and missing high school for a week? That really would have been something.

    kidcampbell71 and AHotRod like this.
  27. AHotRod
    Joined: Jul 27, 2001
    Posts: 10,376


    It could very well be your old Willys.
    Thank you for sharing your story's, I really enjoy reading them.

    loudbang, kidcampbell71 and jnaki like this.
  28. X-cpe
    Joined: Mar 9, 2018
    Posts: 777


    Cross caster, opposite camber and wedge don't help either. First (and only) time I did it, somehow I figured out I had to take all the wedge out to get it to go straight after it jack knifed turning out of the driveway.
    loudbang likes this.
  29. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 16,495


    Physics aside, in my state, if it has a tire touching the road, it has to have current registration, tags, and insurance.

    That said, if you are HAMB-era, and the car has a VIN/serial, this can be done, as we have no inspection (provided that you have title, and you SHOULD have a title, so you can prove ownership). After that, a simple liability-only policy will not set you back much.
    loudbang likes this.
  30. RidgeRunner
    Joined: Feb 9, 2007
    Posts: 818

    from Western MA

    Last time I checked MA requirements were pretty much the same as above, registration, plates, and insurance for the vehicle being towed, best to check with the MA RMV. Highly doubt they have eased any requirements since - they have surprised me a couple of times over the years - and best to try to google relevant info online from the source - MA RMV - and print out a copy to keep with you. In the pre 'net past I have been stopped and ticketed as a result of following a different opinion from a RMV representative than that of the law enforcement officer at the moment.......

    Noticed in the pics in post #6 of the Stude and Crosley that the Crosley had MA plates. Also wiring apparently running back to a light bar which is a good idea even if not currently required, far more inattentive other drivers out there now than back in the day.

    All the best for a safe and fun trip next season.


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