Don't call these workhorses recreation vehicles-ATVs have become crucial elements at racetracks big and small. Some carry parts, some carry medical supplies and medics, and others help maintain the track.
Better Than HumansATVs accomplish many tasks better than humans because they can carry heavy things quickly and easily. Ever try carrying sprint car tires (the rear tires-not the pizza cutters up front)? Essentially, an ATV-and utility vehicles like the Kawasaki Mule-is like having an extra crewmember who is always happy to carry heavy equipment. As an added bonus, ATVs don't complain about how much, or how little, they're getting paid.
Quick on the SceneTrack personnel who can promptly solve problems keep the show moving along faster, resulting in more racing for the people in the stands. The safety crew and emergency medical technicians often use ATVs to quickly carry themselves, fire extinguishers, and medical supplies to an accident when time is critical. Track crews often use ATVs for putting down chalk (at dirt tracks), taking items back and forth to other track personnel, and inspecting the track in between races. Also, other aspects of a racetrack, such as the concession stands, can benefit from having a vehicle that can carry supplies and snake through a crowd much easier than a fullsize vehicle. This is important when the corn dog supply is low.
Less Costly Than a TruckTrack owners that want the safety- and track-maintenance crew to have good mobility appreciate ATVs. Not only do they cost less than a truck, but the operating cost also is significantly less since vehicle-license taxes, insurance, and fuel usage is much smaller or not an issue. Overall, the ATV and similar utility vehicles make many tasks easier for racers and track operators, just as it does for ranchers, farm owners, and large-property owners.
Straight From The PitsFour-wheelers get the job done just fine for many racers, but the Duesenburgs of infield utility vehi-cles are widely considered to be the Kawasaki Mule, John Deere Gator, and similar vehicles with two seats, a steering wheel, and a big bed in the back.Kevin Briggs, crew chief of the #26 Village Marine Tec Sprint Car driven by Rob Kershaw in the Ventura (California) Raceway Associaton Sprint Car series, got his Mule this year and has been the envy of the pits ever since. His Mule is a central work area that stores all his tools. During red-flag pit stops, Kershaw has everything he needs to make adjustments and work on the car. With all that space in the back, he's become Mr. Popularity with other crew chiefs since they often ask to pile parts on his war wagon. (They want a piece of his Mule!) He keeps a massive toolbox, air tank, assorted parts, and extra lighting in the Mule, and it's quite the mobile workstation. It's much more than four wheels with a couple of seats and a bed for hauling stuff.
That's not to say that traditional four-wheelers would be "roughing it" for these guys. Old, beat-up four-wheelers are by far the pit vehicles of choice. When equipped with large racks and trailers for hauling bulky items, these tools make life easier for racers-not to mention a real help in moving the sprint car in the pits.
Another sprint car racer at Ven-tura Raceway, Tom Stansberry of Bakersfield, California, considers his four-wheeler a valuable asset for his race team. "It's like our war wagon," says Stansberry. He uses it to haul tools, tires, fuel, and many of the same things that Briggs hauls in his Mule. When he's done with it at the track, he uses it at home to haul wood and move about his property.