For a small- to the mid-size race team, the struggle to fund the costs of racing is real. For those self-funded privateers, the challenge is often a fragile house of cards to free-up any cash available in order to run a full season. Often, decisions have to made to reduce the schedule or even tailor the list of events for a season to suit these ‘shoestring’ budgets.
Fuel costs are of course a large component of that budget. Fuel is not only needed to power the race car(s) but also, the equally important race rig to get from race-to-race. Sure, it might be seemingly out of touch to stress over a few cents a gallon, but it adds up. Also, there will be surprises at the pumps in certain states. We reached out to the crew at Titan Fuel Tanks to gain some wisdom on its extended-range truck tanks for race rigs and do some math to break it all down for you.
The Cost Of Racing Out West
It will come as no surprise to any of our readers that California has the highest gas prices in the nation. We here at One Dirt are headquartered in Murrieta, California, and know all to well the pain at the pumps here. On the flip-side, the midwest has some of the cheapest fuel in the nation. Shockingly, however, the lowest price at the pumps is not in Texas as we previously thought, but rather, the neighboring state of Arkansas. Our gut-feeling about the highest prices in the midwest area was correct after we guessed Illinois. Why? Because Chicago’s pricing on everything is wildly out of touch with reality.
Our focus here remains on the challenges of participating in racing events in the state of California. Sure, the food and hotels already cost more than elsewhere, but the fuel prices — from racing fuel to regular and even diesel — absolutely smoke the national average by nearly $1.00 a gallon or more. Before we dive into it, it’s also important to note that the instances of high fuel prices in California extend up the entire West coast states — all the way to the Canadian border.
The Oregon average was above $3.00 per gallon and Washington is right behind Cali at $3.14 per gallon, forming the three highest diesel prices in America. Prices listed were prior to the stock market’s wild ride in March of 2020.
“We only make extended-range tanks for diesel trucks due to the EPA regulations which make the gasoline-truck replacement and auxiliary tanks virtually impossible to manufacture at an affordable cost,” says Mike DeFord, Titan Fuel Tanks Marketing Director. “The NHTSA [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] and DOT [Department of Transportation] prevent any gasoline extended-range tanks being manufactured due to potential fire hazard and safety concerns.”
Any grade of gasoline is highly flammable. However, diesel is not. Therefore, larger aftermarket tanks for factory locations are approved for diesel trucks only. The move by NHTSA and DOT was also partially decided on because diesel is used for critical types of transportation in shipping as well as farming and construction. Basically, diesel hauls and builds everything in America and well, the majority of our race rigs — all laden with race cars, spares, and tools — to various events across the country.
“It’s no secret the costs of running races in California are extremely high,” says Denis Gile, USAC Southwest Sprint Car racer based in Arizona. “Costs are up in my home state too. Thankfully, I have assistance with transport, but the costs greatly affect many teams out there.”
It’s known that race teams will not only avoid some of the high costs states due to the fuel prices and unavoidable travel expenses. But at the same time, that is where a company like Titan Fuel Tanks can save you money when heading into California (or other pricey fuel states) by working the system.
“If you consider one of our products for the current Cummins-diesel-powered RAM trucks,” says DeFord “The 2500 and 3500 diesels have a 26-gallon tank on board. Our Titan direct-replacement tank is a 52-gallon monster.”
Titan Fuel Tanks Features
Titan Fuel Tanks products are made from military-grade polymer, which is verified to be both stronger and lighter than metal fuel tanks. While the shapes and volumes of Titan tanks are different, the average weight of one of these beefy polymer units is around 45-pounds. Aside from the obvious benefits and capacity increase, Titan tanks will also not de-laminate or corrode when using bio-diesel fuel. There are no condensation issues, no cracked welds or seams, and the versatile material can be formed into ways to maximize the volume of fuel inside.
One of the most appealing features of the Titan Fuel Tanks extended-range products is they are a direct fit with all supplied hardware using the factory mounting points. They are approved for use on all highways and ready for overland off-road use. This means Titan tanks are durable and take a beating when installed. But we’re here to talk about volume and range while saving both time and money with the investment in Titan Fuel Tanks products.
In the case of the 2013-2020 RAM 3500 dually, according to EPA ratings, the truck gets 24 mpg on the highway (unladen). But, your mileage may vary. That rating will net around 624 miles until an empty tank (which of course we’re not running it totally dry either). But, the increased size of a Titan tank is double the factory. At 52-gallons, the extended range balloons to 1,248-miles. In other applications — like the Ford F-250 Crew Cab long bed, the OEM tank is only 34-gallons. The lightweight Titan replacement is a whopping 67-gallons. Looking at the percentages, volume and range will increase between 65- to 90-percent across the product line. Titan states that while towing, a realistic 500-mile extension is possible.
No Stopping In California
Let’s say you are based-in, passing-through, or at a track in Arizona — which currently has the lowest diesel prices of any state bordering California. Let’s also say you’re headed to Bakersfield Speedway in California and stop for fuel at the Arizona border (around Fort Mohave). The impending trip is 276 miles (552 round trip), meaning with a range of over 600 miles with a Titan Fuel Tanks extended range unit, there really is no need to stop for diesel in California. It is possible to be in ‘n’ out of Bakersfield Speedway or closer tracks in California on one tank while eliminating two or three stops along the way — depending on driving style and any sight-seeing trips around Bakersfield.
“We have DOT data on how long the average stop is for long-distance highway travel during development,” says DeFord. “At 30-minutes per stop, it adds up on your tow rig over a long distance.”
The prevention of unnecessary fuel stops means saving a bit of time by cutting more than an hour from this journey. We can’t predict how many stops your stomach or bladder will require though, and we can only hope you make the right timing decisions there too.