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SEMA Resource - DOT Rules Governing Motorsports Racing Trailers


Well-Known Member
Thought this might be a helpful resource to some of the Short Course Teams.

Thanks to the SEMA Action Network for doing all the heavy lifting.

Thousands participate in legal racing events around the country each year. Many rely on motorsports trailers to transport race cars to the track and may encounter a confusing maze of laws and regulations that govern use of these trailers on state roadways. To help facilitate that process, the following resource guide provides federal and state laws/regulations governing motorsports trailers for both hobby and commercial activities.

When citations are issued, they frequently fall within two categories: 1) the size of the trailer violated state law, or 2) the vehicle/trailer combination was considered “commercial” by enforcement authorities but had not been registered with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) or state-equivalent agency, as required.

State laws on trailer size may vary, but the vehicle/trailer combination is subject to the laws of the jurisdiction in which it is traveling. DOT registration requirements begin at a relatively low weight (10,001 pounds for a “commercial” vehicle/trailer combination) and law enforcement may too easily reach a conclusion that the vehicle/trailer combination is “commercial.” For example, if a trailer owner is displaying corporate logos on the trailer, the trailer could be considered “commercial.” Further, any carrier that is required to obtain a DOT number is also required to register under the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) and pay fees (currently$76/year for 1-2 vehicles).

Click on these links for more information and tips on these topics:

  • Trailer Size, etc.: A quick comparison of rules in all 50 states covering dimensions, brakes, hitch/signals, lighting/reflectors, mirrors, speed limits, towing and other restrictions.
  • DOT/UCR Registration: Describes what triggers DOT/UCR registration requirements and how the “motorsports exemption” can help avoid such registration requirements.
  • Click on the folders below to read the law and regulations for each state, in its entirety. To quickly navigate through each document, use the 'Find' (Ctrl+F) function, type the word you are searching for, and hit 'enter'.
This webpage was created to serve as a useful supplement for understanding federal and state laws governing motorsports trailers. The information contained herein is current as of November 1, 2015. Please be advised that these federal and state laws and regulations are subject to change. Please consult the current statutes and regulations of interest to ensure the accuracy of the information contained within this resource.

SEMA has relied upon federal and state resources to collect the material but disclaims any responsibility for the contents. SEMA also disclaims any responsibility for any claims that might result from reliance on the contents of the material.

If you have further questions, please contact SEMA Action Network at [email protected]


Well-Known Member
Lots of valuable info here, great post. I can't tell you how many discussions I've had in the pits about this. Pretty much everyone needs a CDL and all the DOT stuff that goes with it.


Well-Known Member
what a great system we have. you can be 90 1/2 blind and drive a bus towing a 3/4 pickup with no problem.But you cant tow the same truck behind your pickup without a CDL.
I am getting really tired of our government helping us.

Elise Winter

New Member
Thanks for the post. Vehicle shipping services have to follow the rules and regulations and if the shipping of vehicles is across the international borders, company officials need to take mandatory permissions from the government. You may look at here now for the knowledge about different vehicle transport services and its shipping process.


Well-Known Member
California DOT Motorsports Exemption for Tractor-Trailer Rigs

Racers traveling to CA should be warned as the California Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued new motorsports exemption in regard to commercial tractor-trailer rigs. The directive allows for a length limit (65 ft.) and involves applying for a permit. According to one California DOT official, there is no allowance or permit available for motorhomes and trailers more than 65 ft. long.