For some, what’s in the paddock is as interesting as what’s in the pits. Especially the race car transporters…
By Gordon Cruickshank
It doesn’t matter which form of racing you are involved in, there’s one requirement that remains constant: getting the racing car to the circuit. Even if a racer is physically capable of being driven to the venue on the road (ah, the thought of those Le Mans D-types barking down the Ni…), it might not be driveable after the event — but it still has to be carted home. Over the years teams have employed every option from simple tow-rope to today’s vast articulated lorries, and while transporters are often ignored, for some they exert a fascination. Hence Inside the Paddock, David Cross’s intensively researched book describing scores of these vital vehicles through the years. We liked it so much that we decided to bring you a selection of its contents, which illustrate a fascinating range of solutions to the transport question. The contrasts are enormous:
from two-wheeled trailers through converted coaches to multi-story conveyors; bare vans with a simple tool bag to fully equipped travelling tool rooms; sleeping bags on seats to insulated, heated bunk rooms; Thermos flasks to lavish kitchens with fridges and microwaves. The days of mechanics pushing cars up a couple of wooden planks are gone; now electric winches and hydraulic lifts provide the muscle, while elaborate awnings provide extensive covered work space.
The golden era of transporters came between the 1950s and 1970s, when some wonderful coachbuilt designs appeared in circuit paddocks, styled and streamlined in the fashion of the time, notably by Pegaso, Lancia and Scarab. Perhaps the stylistic peaks are the Ecurie Ecosse truck and the low-line Mercedes high-speed transporter, but here we select some less usual sights from Europe’s paddocks.