Anyone flat tow?


Anyone flat tow (i.e. all 4 wheels of race car on the ground)? How’s that work out for you?

Seems like a lot of advantages:
-Towing less weight
-Can get away with a smaller tow vehicle
-No trailer to store

-Possible wear on race car?
-Have to carry a set of road tires and swap 'em out before the race


I have thought about it. And funny you bring it up. I saw two cars each flat towing another car this morning on my way to work. I am pretty sure to run in Spec E30 you need to remove the steering lock. That means you could not flat tow. So the option would be a tow dolly. A friend of mine owns a BMW repair shop and told me it is bad to tow with the drive wheels spinning … even though it is a stick and in neutral.

I borrow or rent a trailer every time I go to the track. The trailer weighs about 1,500 pounds. That plus the weight of the E30 pushes the envelope on what my Explorer can tow so I use my wife’s Expedition.

It is a great question and I am interested in the responses.


Right, forgot about the steering lock thing. I guess lashing down the steering wheel is too risky–one bad knot and you’ve got a runaway car!

The U-Haul trailer is 2500lbs!! My 1500 5.3 is just adequate to tow it, but I’d really rather be in a nice station wagon or something every day. I figure an Audi Allroad, V70R, or something could handle flat towing the 2500lb race car + ~500lbs of support stuff, with better fuel economy to boot. Plus I could finally park at Whole Foods without all the dirty looks!!


There are plenty of reasons not to flat tow, but why would the lack of a steering lock make the list? You want the wheels to be able to caster.



If the wheels are not locked straight and you hit a bump it may turn the wheels. It will look like the E30 is crabbing down the highway behind you.


Ha ha ha! Well get a Dodge Cummings or an F450 diesel. When you go to Whole Foods let it idle while you are purchasing your organic cumquats.

Having said that my wife’s Expedition with the towing package does a great job. Brake controls are built in. Extra radiators for oil and tranny. I don’t even know the little E30is behind me unless I look in the rear view mirror.

I thought of driving my car to the track … but soooooo many things could go wrong. It had tags and plates but I let them expire.


A tow dolly is not crazy. Cheap to rent or easy to store. It’s light enough that Al Taylor frequently tows race cars to events behind all sorts of dilapidated vehicles that look unlikely to make it around the block, much less pulling a car to a distant event.

If you put the front tires on the dolly then the spinning rear wheels are supposed to be hard on the tranny. I don’t know the details but I think it’s about lubrication. I’m not sure I completely buy it tho. It seems like there’s enough fluid in the tranny that a single spinning gear anywhere ought to throw some fluid around tho. And, if you had to buy a used transmissions every couple years, at $300ea. you could buy a lot of trannies for the cost of a tow vehicle and trailer.

If you put the rear wheels on the dolly you should find that the front wheels tend to stay straight all by themselves. I did rearward dolly tow once with an e46 and it towed a couple hundred miles w/o trouble. If, on the road it did cause trouble by getting a little wiggly, you could just pull off the freeway, turn the race car around and put it back on for the rest of the trip.

I’m not saying this is a great solution, but in a pinch it might work.


For the benefit of future readers, I’ll respond to two things here. Of course, you will make your own decisions and do as you wish.

I strongly recommend you do not lock the steering wheel if you are going to flat tow. Read a little bit about caster, and what it does for a car.

I strongly recommend you do not put a car on a tow dolly backward, especially without a means of locking the steering. Read a little bit about caster, and think about what it does for a car going backward.

Respectfully submitted, hopefully at a great distance from anyone ignoring the above advice…



[quote=“cpp” post=77811]There are plenty of reasons not to flat tow, but why would the lack of a steering lock make the list? You want the wheels to be able to caster.


Were you going to share any of your reasons against flat towing? Or is your last name Hanger?


Sure - none of them are absolutes, but they add up in the negative column for me.

  • Harder to maneuver than a trailer, both in turning radius and backing up.
  • Stopping: total weight is less than if it’s on a trailer, but you don’t have the benefit of brakes (unless you get an expensive setup like some of the RV guys use).
  • Many of the things that can go wrong in a race and prevent you from driving the car home would also prevent flat towing.
  • Check your local laws, but I believe the car would need to be licensed and insured if towed on its own wheels.
  • You’d need some sort of tow bar mount, and would have to deal with wankers saying it’s not legal and gives you an unfair advantage by adding weight to the front.



Hadn’t thought about the tow bar mount. Wonder how that works.


After reading Smokey Yunicks book I thought about flat towing…I mean you see dinghy’s behind RV’s all the time.

One bent control arm or strut and it would be trouble, same with the dolly if you ball it up bad enough, like I did at Charlotte one time. I used to drive my car to the track, had to drive it home on 5 cyl’s one time and had to call a friend when I melted an engine down. AAA Premier with free 200 mile tow can be a big help…

I currently use a tow dolly behind a Mercedes 300SE 126 chassis sedan, have used Volvo 240, 740 Turbo, BMW e12 528i, BMW e28 528e (Used that one to tow an Alfa from NM to NC) If I am going to go further than 250 miles I rent a truck for a week -$500 and do a few days of business with it to help pay for it, I have a nice Kaufmann dual axel with brakes.

I would not advise for anyone to use a dolly, most people are more concerned with talking on the phone or texting to handle that kind of rig, and not just the nut behind the wheel, every other nut on the road. I schedule my tow specifically for traffic, the last race at CMP I was the first Spec e30 there, not because I like getting there first but I go slow, travel when there is no traffic (Hopefully) and do not tow after dark.

Al Taylor


I used to use a tow dolly for every event, and it wasn’t bad. I didn’t see any issues with lubrication in the transmission or the diff.

The reason I stopped, and started renting a trailer from UHaul for the events I don’t drive the race car to, is that I don’t have a set of “towing” tires any more to slap on the rear end for the trip.