New ways to get tailgate-ready

For many sports fans, "tailgate" is their favorite word of the season -- a time to party-hearty in the great outdoors, or at least in a huge stadium parking lot.

For many sports fans, "tailgate" is their favorite word of the season -- a time to party-hearty in the great outdoors, or at least in a huge stadium parking lot.

Not surprisingly, tailgating has evolved over the years.

If there's a baseball game or NASCAR race, someone's next to his car, truck, van, SUV or even RV, performing tailgate rituals -- like grillin', chillin', drinkin' and watchin' TV. Non-sports fans have embraced tailgating too, taking the fun to concerts, camping and other outdoor get-togethers.

"Tailgating used to be a pickup truck and keg of beer. Now it's an art form," says Peter MacGillivray, vice president of events and communication for the Specialty Equipment Market Association, a 50-year-old automotive trade organization with 6,500-plus member companies.

The emphasis is on the car or truck, says MacGillivray, because that's where the tailgating fun begins. "Tailgating really highlights the way you can personalize and enhance your vehicle to fit one's interests. Thanks to manufacturing innovations, today's tailgaters have a vast array of cool, clever products to turn their vehicles into party headquarters."


If you're using your vehicle for merrymaking, you may be feeling the pressure to toss a crowd-pleasing bash. To get your rollicking party started, MacGillivray is offering ideas for turning your vehicle into party headquarters:

• Get in bed: Keep the bed

area of your truck protected and stylish, with colorful spray-on bed liners, complete bolt-on bed liners, a rubber bed floor or tailgate mats. A specially made tent can fit over the truck bed.

• Tailgate tales: There are various ladders, ramps and stairs to improve access. Tailgate caps protect the tailgate and enhance the appearance of your vehicle. And for sheer comfort, a tailgate couch can convert any full-sized truck tailgate into a haven for couch potatoes.

• Team player: It's not hard to show your allegiances. Look for vinyl team graphics that adhere to the sides of your vehicle. Use wheel covers, floor mats and dash covers adorned with your team logo. Is someone lost? Help friends find your party with personalized car flags.

• There's a hitch: Lots of cool products are available that attach to your tow hitch, including fold-out tailgating tables and TV mounts. Dual-hitch receivers double your towing capacity so you can bring more tailgating accessories.

• Food service: Don't let the lack of a fridge impede your grub situation. Use wheel well storage units and ice chests to hold beverages. For stability, use beverage holders that plant in the ground. For mobility, opt for a cargo cooler organizer on a trolley.

• Game on: Flat screen TVs and sound systems designed for cars and trucks are ideal for tailgating. Plus, portable satellite receivers and antennas offer "like-home" reception. Barring these set ups, mobile electronics work great, too.


• The great outdoors: Pop-up auto umbrellas, shelters and awnings can fend off rain or too much sunshine. Use portable walls for a little privacy.

For more ideas on spiffing up your vehicle for tailgating, visit your local camping, sporting goods or auto parts store for inspiration, or visit .

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
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