I’ve always wanted to own a caravan.
The first race meet I went to at the start of last year, I slept in my Transporter van. I expected most of the paddock would be doing the same. Plus I had slept in my van before when scuba diving – it has sound deadening, is insulated and is fully carpet lined.
Two weeks later I bought a caravan.
The reasons for this are many, but primarily I felt that spending a fortune on going racing to then head out onto track having had 2 hours of broken sleep wasn’t clever. Add to that the fact that race circuit paddock bathroom facilities are far from glamorous and the fact that the race season starts in April and ends in October and you can see the business case forming. I also did a rather unscientific survey of the paddock and determined that the van-dwellers were something of a hardy minority.
From a practical perspective, I work on a Thursday before heading to circuit in preparation for the Friday practice day, so I often arrive at 9 or 10pm. If you have to put up an awning and empty the van under it just to free up space to sleep at that time of night – well it isn’t ideal.
So I joined the world of the caravanner. It’s a balls to tow around the place – not so much the length of the thing but more the weight. My van is plenty powerful enough to carry all my race gear and bike, but slap the gypsy mansion on the back and it struggles. It is capable enough, I just think I ask too much of a 1.9 diesel 102ps…
On the plus side, well it’s bloody luxury really. Proper bed, eating facilities, fridge, TOILET, shower, heating, music – even TV! We stay trackside for three nights, so in all seriousness it really helps to have a comfortable retreat. It’s also good for hosting anyone who makes the effort to come and support my racing – just being able to make a brew etc is nice. Probably most importantly, it allows my better half to come to race meets with me and have a reasonable level of comfort. I don’t think she’d be quite as keen if she had to lie in the back of a bare van…
Price-wise, well it’s up to you but I opted to go for the lower end of the ‘well-kept beginner van’ market sector. I bought off a man who is a professional independent caravan service tech, he offered a pretty-much perfect 2-berth caravan for fair money and that included a pitch in a secure storage location so I don’t have the thing outside my house. It was spotless and works a treat – result. I have just spent the weekend fixing the various bits and pieces that have suffered the wear and tear of a season being hauled between circuits. It needed a decent clean and various fittings replaced or mended but generally it was in good nick considering its treatment is not always sympathetic. I reckon if I sold it today I’d get the same money I paid for it.
The alternatives are a proper race van (combining living quarters and room for the bike and kit), a motorhome towing a bike trailer, hotels (rubbish option as you have to leave the paddock), sleep in a van (already discussed) or a tent. The race van is a great option and one my friends use, it saves any towing and is very compact. The motorhome idea is attractive, but it has its drawbacks. With a caravan you can leave it behind when you don’t need it – with a motorhome your engine is attached to the living quarters so it’s no good for trackdays etc. Tent? No thank you sir…
So in summary, it’s not something I aspired to but I’m thankful I have it. My racing experience is much better for it and it’s still cheaper than upgrading the van!