Off to the races

Story and Photos by Randy Grider | October 01, 2011

Getting to the track is only part of the job of NASCAR haulers

Dean Mozingo, bound for Indianapolis, pulls onto Interstate 85 in Concord, N.C., just past midnight. Unlike most truckers on the highway at this late hour, he garners a great deal of attention as he navigates the sparse traffic before coming upon a 10-minute backup at a construction zone.

For Mozingo, it’s impossible to remain anonymous. After all, his rig is a rolling billboard for probably the most famous NASCAR driver on the Sprint Cup circuit — Jeff Gordon. His No. 24 Drive to End Hunger/DuPont transporter is loaded with two race cars, backup engines and at least one spare part for anything and everything that could possibly be needed by the crew on race day.

When Mozingo has his CB turned on, he is sure to get a lot of comments and questions from fellow truckers.

For NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon to be competitive in the upper echelon of the Sprint Cup Series, he must be backed by a good racing team. A key member of that team is Dean “Squirrel” Mozingo, who not only transports Gordon’s race cars and other essential race-day equipment, but plays a vital role in his other duties, including being an ambassador for Hendrick Motorsports to the many fans he encounters along the highways.

“Probably the most-asked question I get is, ‘How do I get a job doing what you’re doing?’” Mozingo says. “I also get questions like ‘Is Jeff in there with you?’”

Curious truckers and others often approach Mozingo whenever he pulls into a truckstop for fuel or to take a needed break. Though he has fielded the same inquires thousands of times during his 15-year career as a NASCAR hauler, Mozingo patiently and graciously takes the time to answer the questions.

“If I take 10 minutes to talk to someone, he may become a Jeff Gordon fan,” Mozingo says. “If I’m rude, [Gordon] may lose a fan.”

Mozingo says he feels he has an obligation to represent three different entities — trucking, his race team and the sponsors — in a positive light. “I am a trucker, and I’m proud of that,” he says. “I also work for a great team that has sponsors who pay a lot of money to have their names on the side of my truck.”

Fellow transporter drivers like Jeff Craven, who hauls the Caterpillar-sponsored No. 31 car of Jeff Burton on the Richard Childress Racing team, understand the interest from other truckers. Though race fans may follow a transporter for 50 miles or more just to get a good picture of the eye-catching trucks and trailers, many truckers find the job compelling.

“Truckers will ask you where you are going even when they know where you are going just so they can talk to you,” Craven says. “They don’t understand the job, but they are interested in finding out more about it.”

Kyle Bazzell, driver of the transporter for Jimmy Johnson’s No. 48 car, makes his way down Speedway’s Main Street in Indianapolis for the third annual Hauler Parade three days prior to the running of the 2011 Brickyard 400.

With each Sprint Cup Series race limited to a field of 43 cars, it is truly a niche profession. Even when you factor the handful of cars with limited sponsorships or no sponsors, the number of haulers in NASCAR’s top circuit at each race is small.

“There are only about 48 of these jobs in the whole world,” says Glen Shano, the hauler for the Aaron’s No. 00 car of David Reutimann on the Michael Waltrip Racing team. “It’s a pretty close-knit group. When truckers ask me about the job, I try to be cordial. I understand that driving one of these may be a dream of theirs.” strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.