Sorting out the United States
Department of Transportation regulations and where the race
have done a lot of research and there has been a lot of
interest in my latest article about the DOT and racers.
The main point of interest here is I feel the DOT is actually
“reaching out” to inform and help make the tow
vehicles and race cars “legal and safe” as we
travel around the country. In fact I was actually contacted
by a member of the DOT offering assistance with this article.
I hope this article will clarify some of the rules and help
you decide where you are as far as being a “commercial
business” or a “hobby”.
I have received many questions and many letters
of racer’s experience with the DOT inspectors and
rules that they have found out about. What I am going to
try to accomplish this month is to establish a few guidelines
you can follow to get yourself prepared for that day when
a DOT enforcement officer decides he needs to look at your
1. Probably the most important thing that
has come out of my investigation is you need to determine
if you are involved in a “commercial business”
or if you are just racing as a “hobby”.
a. The primary thing that separates commercial business
from hobby is how you handle your racing expenses and
income. If you have the tow vehicle or trailer titled
in a business name or deduct and/or depreciate the costs
of tow vehicle or trailer you are commercial.
b. The next thing that has a bearing on whether you
are considered to be a commercial business or not is
whether you deduct racing expenses from your income
taxes. This would be parts purchases, travel expenses,
cost of the race vehicle or supporting tools, etc. If
you deduct expenses and costs associated with your racing
you are a commercial business.
c. If you have enough winnings that a track sends you
an IRS Form 1099 with your winnings on it and you show
this as income for your racing business or another business
you are a commercial business.
d. If you DO NOT deduct racing expenses, you purchase
your truck and trailer with personal dollars and do
not depreciate those items and any income you make from
racing goes on your personal income taxes you are likely
NOT a commercial business. Does this mean you are exempt
from all the DOT rules? NO! But it will make it a lot
easier to comply.
2. There is a very good website that will
help answer a lot of questions that you may have, www.fmcsa.dot.gov
You can also check out your local phonebook for your state
DOT offices. They can answer some of your specific questions.
The best way to break this down and keep it
relatively short is to look at the smaller rigs first. Again,
these requirements are for racers that operate as commercial
businesses. For example I will use my tow vehicle and trailer,
which is probably pretty common for a bracket racer who
will do some traveling to other races for bigger events.
These guidelines are for tow vehicles and trailers that
would weigh or have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR)
UNDER 26,001 pounds as they go down the road. I will try
to make a highlighted note about different requirements
if your rig weighs 26,001 pounds or more.
1. My tow vehicle is a Class C Ford Motor
Home. This is the E-450 van with a camper conversion on
it. GVWR is 10,500 pounds. That can be found on the VIN
sticker in the left doorjamb. The trailer I use is a 32’
enclosed trailer with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds.
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