Sometimes being in the racing business can pay off in other ways.
For almost seven years, two race car drivers have been focusing on building and renovating trailers and other vehicles.
Makes sense. It’s pretty hard to get your car to the track without a trailer. It just takes someone to recognize the market.
John Hampel and Mark Wyman started Predator Trailers in Union, Neb., in 2006. It wasn’t long before they moved their operation to Omaha, then eventually moved to a new building in Papillion during late October 2012.
They build anything from 53-foot race trailers for race teams to six-foot tailgate grills and carts for football games.
“Actually, 90 percent of our business is remodeling or renovated,” Wyman said. “But we have done a lot of other things beside trailers including steel furniture, fireplaces. We even made the trophies for the Silver Dollar Nationals at I-80 Speedway.”
The list goes on: air tank guards for Caterpillar, various projects for Kenworth, the pit truck for Strobel Motorsports for off-road racing efforts in the desert.
“One of our neatest projects was to build an ambulance for the Houston Children’s Museum,” Wyman said. “We started from scratch, and used an old Isuza truck cab. When it was completed, it was 80 inches tall, 62 inches wide and 11 feet long. It’s the right size that kids in wheelchairs can sit in the front and pretend to drive it.”
Being drivers (both Hampel and Wyman have won the Adams County Speedway Late Model Championship in Corning, Iowa), their customer base is heavily populated with people wanting to either build new or upgrade and refurbish a race car hauler.
Their list of clients for new trailers or renovations include Joe and Steve Kosiski, Bryant Goldsmith, Johnny (the Jet) Saathoff, Dylan Smith, Jesse Sobbing, Al Humphrey and many other area and regional drivers.
Building race car haulers is a lot safer than driving race cars, as Hampel and Wyman can attest.
Hampel’s big crash came at I-80 Speedway in 2009. Wyman had a couple of serious crashes, first in 2001 at the Crawford County Speedway in Denison, Iowa, and then the following year at I-80 Speedway.
While Hampel has been working full time at Predator from the start, Wyman was a cabinet maker during the day, and worked at Predator at night and on the weekends. When they started construction of the new building, he decided to stop making cabinets and work full time at Predator.
As it’s well into the 2013 racing season, Hampel and Wyman have been busy trying to stay caught up.
“We have been working seven days a week to make sure we can get our projects done on time,” Wyman said.