You will forgive Tommy Johnson Sr. for spending his life racing only in straight lines when you discover what he has done to make your life a little easier. Johnson, you see, is a long-time drag racer. You may have heard of his son, Tommy Jr., who has had quite a bit of success as a top-level Funny Car and Top Fuel drag racer. Tommy Sr. still races, too, but he's kept his own racing limited to the hobbyist level.

For many years, Johnson went to the racetrack by himself, just like many of us do. He also experienced what a pain in the (pick your own body part depending on your experience) unloading and loading a car by yourself can be. To control the winch and the car at the same time, Johnson used a remote control on a 30-foot cord. But cords tangle, they get hung on the trailer along with everything else in sight, and they have a magical ability to find their way under a race car's tires-stock car or drag car makes little difference.

Johnson's solution was to invent a wireless winch controller that he now sells through his company, Tommy Johnson's Motorsports Warehouse. Now, instead of being tethered to your winch by a cord, you move around your car as much as you like while you load or unload, without worrying about the knot you're tying in the control cord.

If you already have a winch installed on your trailer, Johnson sells kits that work with just about every major brand and model. The only major requirement is that the winch has a solenoid system and a plug for the corded control. Simply unplug the cord and plug the receiver into that jack. The receiver (also known as the brain box) also includes 3 feet of power cord that must be connected to a battery (usually the one used to power the winch). Extend and secure the flexible antenna wire along a wall or some other protected area and you are set. The remote control is no larger than a key fob. It even comes with a ring for holding your trailer keys, and can easily be kept in your pocket until you are ready for it. Operation is simple: One button releases the winch cable, and the other button reels it back in.

Johnson says the remotes are designed to virtually eliminate the possibility that somebody else's remote will work your winch. There are, in fact, 16,000 different combinations, so an overlap is extremely unlikely. For comparison, Johnson says your typical garage door opener works by way of a possible 300 combinations. The remotes are also good for up to 200 feet from the receiver. The only area in which a racer would need to be careful is if the remote were installed on an open trailer. The receiver isn't waterproof, so it would need to be removed from the winch when not in use.

Although Johnson will sell you the remote package for just $99, he says he most often sells the unit as part of a winch package. Tommy Johnson's Motorsports Warehouse is an official Super- winch dealer, which means Johnson will warrant the complete package. Even better, whether you purchase it separately or as part of a winch package, Johnson guarantees the brain box-the heart of the cordless system-for as long as you own it.

Wiring for each system is specific for the brand of winch it is to be run with. This means it plugs right in and requires no mechanical changes to your current setup beyond unplugging your corded controller.

Each controller is tested by Johnson before it leaves his shop.

Tommy Johnson's Motorsports Warehouse