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A tie down is a tie down is a tie down, right? Not always. Let us tell you a story. A few years ago, Alex Rogeo and I were setting up their race pit when a terrible accident happened a few pits over. Apparently, the hydraulics for a lift within a stacker trailer had failed and the lift, with race car still on it, fell on a man who was being crushed to death. We and a couple of other people worked feverishly to free the man, who was not breathing. The first thing we all tried was to roll the car off the lift and get the weight off the man. Lyle Larson and I tried to release the tie downs at the back of the car. The damn, cheap, made-in-China tie downs wouldn’t release. We tried to pull the release mechanism that lets you straighten out the ratchet handle and release the straps, but the things were stuck.
Plan B was tried and with the help of a three ton jack and some jack stands, we got the lift and car off the gentleman. It took several minutes to free the man, and he wasn’t breathing that whole time. He lived, and we’re grateful for that, but I will always wonder, what if we could have gotten that weight off of him even quicker? He did suffer life changing head injuries, and while I’m so very glad that we all saved his life, as a crew chief it’s my natural thought pattern to wonder how we could have done it better.
OK, so once-in-a-lifetime life and death situations aside, tie downs are something we’ve never enjoyed wrestling with. They’re hard to release, they don’t move freely or with any precision, they love to pinch fingers and hands—let’s face it, they’re kind of evil. So when we met Colin McLemore, founder of Mac’s Tie Downs at the SEMA Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council industry show this past January, we went into the meeting with a sort of, “Meh” attitude. But we certainly didn’t leave the meeting feeling like that.
We love American cars. Obviously, we’re Mopar enthusiasts, but beyond that we love all American cars. We wouldn’t kick a new COPO Camaro or Super Cobra Jet out of our garage if one fell off a truck, that’s for sure. Can’t say the same about a Mini, or a Land Rover. We also love America, it’s the greatest country on earth for a lot of reasons, including our supreme ingenuity, work ethic, and our ability to out-design and out-manufacture anyone when we put our minds to it.
Colin McLemore founded Mac’s in 1993 because he was as frustrated then with tie downs as we were now. Located in Sagle, ID, Mac’s Tie Down’s designs, engineers and builds their tie downs in-house. And what great design and engineering it is too. The photos will tell the story visually, but we’ll tell you about what you can’t see. You can’t see how smoothly and easily the Mac’s patented ratchet mechanism works. You can’t see how much better the ergonomically designed ratchet handle and release mechanism fit into your hands, or how much less effort is required to work the ratchet and release handles. You can see the larger diameter handle of the ratchets and the larger diameter of the ratchet cylinder, but you can’t see how nice it is not to have sharp edges cutting your fingers and your hands get sore trying to pull the release up with a skinny handle biting into your palm.
You might see the stronger, thicker web straps but you can’t see how much better they resist twisting and kinking than the cheap tie downs do. Same for the brilliant design that has the attachment hook built into the ratchet handle, you can see the difference in the photos, but until you use them yourself you won’t realize how much you used to wrestle with keeping the ratchet’s and straps lined up while tightening up the straps. And speaking of hooks, the safety mechanism that prevents the hook from coming off the D-ring is something you won’t notice at first, but will come to love the first time you use them. Instead of having to slip your finger under the hook to release the safety—where your fingers are just begging to be pinched and cut, you merely press down with your thumb on the top of the hook to release the safety. This is a “smack yourself in the forehead-doh!” kind of design idea that makes you wonder why someone didn’t think of it sooner. But that’s American ingenuity for you.
Great design, great quality, great products. To quote a friend of ours who is a crew member on a top five NHRA Pro Stock team when we asked them about Mac’s Tie Downs, “We won’t even consider buying straps from anyone else.”
In addition to great individual products Mac’s sells convenient ‘Packs’ of different types containing ratchet and axle straps, pads, ties and with nice carrying cases. And Mac’s is about a lot more than just tie downs, they make a patented track system, their VersaTie Track, that is probably the best and strongest track system made. They make a very nice chassis stabilizer for you folks whose cars lack suspension too. Engine lifts with adjustable pivot points, fire extinguisher mounts, snowmobile clamp downs, towing hardware. If you have a trailer and you tow any kind of vehicle, you should check out Mac’s website. Your application may not be a life or death matter, but then again, it might be. You never know.