Part 6: Building the Perfect Chase Bed
Finding the balance between utility and aesthetics can be quite difficult. Here at Four Wheeler, we follow the belief that function always comes before form. For this particular project, however, we wanted something that looked as well as it performed. Our concept stems from numerous trips south of the border, where we've noticed several variations of a somewhat uncommon vehicle modification: Baja chase beds.
Chase beds blur the lines between a utility body and flatbed because they combine key features of each in type. Born from years of abuse in the deserts of Baja, these unique beds are multitalented, serving as mobile communications posts, portable mechanics' shops, mobile refueling stations, and often the place where chase crews turn for recovery equipment after a racing mishap. During the course of a race, countless crew members depend on their chase trucks for pit essentials such as spare parts, tools, and fuel. The job typically requires a plethora of anchor points and containers to secure tools and equipment. Despite task variations, a chase bed must facilitate instant access to desired gear should a need arise; remember, these beds are supporting a race effort.
Unfortunately there isn't a regular retailer that stocks chase beds, so if you want one, it'll require some custom fabrication. To make matters worse, our chase bed would have to handle two very different tasks. Remember, our approach to this project is dual-purposed: We want a Baja chase truck to aid in all forms of off-road racing, but at the same time we want our Ram to run competitively in the ever-popular exhibition of diesel drag racing. This meant our new bed had to be as lightweight as possible, and still handle the roughest terrain on the planet. Sound impossible?
We thought so, until we found Sierra Nevada Aluminum Flatbeds (S.N.A.F.) of Fresno, California. S.N.A.F. specializes in heavy-duty aluminum flatbeds for just about any truck built today. The company offers a variety of designs for any imaginable application or budget. From a simple flat deck to a hay hauler to the much more elaborate custom-made contractor-style service beds, S.N.A.F. has something for everyone. We toured the S.N.A.F. manufacturing facility when we dropped off the Baja Bomber, and while we were there we got an in-depth look at what makes these beds the cream of the crop. We also discussed our project's requirements and what it would take to build a chase bed for the Bomber. The following is just a small sampling of what S.N.A.F. builds everyday.