A force on and off the track, Kyle Padelford credits his dad, former race car driver Allan Padelford, for helping him develop an exceptional level of driving experience and knowledge from a young age. His wide array of skills include fabrication, scuba diving, skiing, pursuing a pilot’s license and rock climbing. When he’s not racing, Kyle works in the film industry as a camera car arm operator on movies, TV shows and commercials.
Hauling Toys: Racecars
There are two things I love about driving: getting to travel wherever I want, and the power I harness to get there. As a racecar driver, I get to indulge myself in both.
Everything I know about cars, I learned from my father. He was a gearhead even before I was born, and I can’t pinpoint the first time he took me to the racetrack; I was still in a stroller or strapped in a baby carrier. I grew up taking trips to different tracks with him and my mom, dreaming about one day driving myself. My first geography lessons had less to do with state lines and more to do with memorizing the locations of famous courses—Laguna Seca, Sonoma, Road America.
When my dad needed help in his shop, I was always by his side, eager to learn about what made a car go. But before cars, I rode dirt bikes and racing bikes, thrilled to take whatever speed I could get my hands on. I realized early on that I had a knack for listening to everything the bike wanted to tell me—the way the weight transferred, the slip of the dirt under the wheels. Tapping into that feedback made me a better driver, no matter what the vehicle.
When I was 16, I bought my first car and started modifying it for the track. I aspired to reach my dad’s level of greatness. His attention to detail, level of fabrication, and driving skills have always been next-level, serving both as a model for how to become a better driver, and the myth of a man I can only strive to live up to. It takes great focus to race well; you have to clear your mind of all distractions and listen only to the car.
As amazing as racing is, getting there is half the fun. There’s excitement in setting out for your destination, racecar strapped securely into your toy hauler, and stopping to appreciate all the little surprises along the journey. Once, outside of Petaluma, I drove west on the mountain roads and found myself in an idyllic mountain town, complete with a kitschy general store and a coffee shop that served surprisingly delicious food for a town without a single stoplight.
One great thing about driving a toy hauler is you can stop whenever and wherever you like, no hotel necessary. The 2019 Highlander HF383H I drove in the video was roomy enough for both my car and a supremely comfortable king-size bed—a true luxury on the road. And I love waking up surrounded by nature. I may be a gearhead at heart, but when I’m surrounded by the sounds of rustling trees and wind coming off the mountains, I sleep better and wake up less tired. I wake up excited to start the day. The number one greatest thing, of course, is having your racecar wherever you go.
The key in investing in a toy hauler is to pick the right size for you. Depending on what toys you have—cars, bikes, snowmobiles, side-by-sides—there’s an option that will meet your needs. The right size is key, because transporting your toys safely requires strategic preparation. You want the space to secure everything correctly, making sure you add in time for frequent stops to check your haul. I was lucky to grow up learning how to haul a racecar long distances, but I’ve heard some horror stories. You also need to make sure you’re comfortable with the size and weight of your rig, which might initially limit what toys you travel with.
No matter what, pick an easy route with plenty of fuel stops along the way. Depending on the time of year, unpredictable weather can throw a huge wrench into things, so make sure you’re prepared for whatever region you’re driving through. The size of your rig might also limit the places you can stop, another consideration to make before you set out on the road. What you gain in freedom by being able to bunk down anywhere, you give up in mobility. Needing to make an unexpected stop can eat up more time than you realize that you can’t squeeze into smaller parking lots.
The longest distance I’ve traveled with my racecar is from Los Angeles, California, to Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, just outside Braselton, Georgia. It took a few days of slow, steady, planned-out driving, but the toy hauler made it so easy to stop and grab a few hours of sleep when I needed to. The living quarters are comfortable, and knowing that I can stop whenever I’m fatigued allows me to pace myself and keep safety at top of mind. I built my racecar from the ground up—it’s my pride and joy. So there’s no room to make mistakes hauling it on the road. No matter what, I force myself to slow down, take my time, plan out every last detail, so I can get where I’m going safely and leave all the danger out on the course.
The RV featured in this story is a 2019 Highland Ridge Highlander HF383H Toy Hauler. The below graphic represents the cargo area dimensions. The race car featured is a 1999 R34 GTR: Weight: 3,250 lbs, Length: 152", Width: 71" and Height: 53.5". Aftermarket wooden ramp extenders are needed to load the GTR. Always consult your owner’s manual prior to hauling vehicles or recreational toys.
Many people think of toy haulers as the wild-child of the RV world. Sometimes that’s true. While the toy hauler originated as a mobile man-cave complete with diamond plate walls, this popular RV type has evolved into much more. Today you might want to think of toy haulers as open-concept living spaces with multi-purpose utility.
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