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from my Simpson helmet box

Of course, a good helmet is necessary if you're going to drag or road race. To be legal, you'll need a Snell 85, 90 or 95 rated helmet, if you're running faster than 14 seconds in the quarter mile. You probably should just always have one. I bought the Simpson Voyager Super 8 helmet, it's pretty nice.

I was kicked out of the track last trip, because I don't have an NHRA- legal rollbar (I had the Autopower bar) :-(. For convertibles, a 5-point bar is required if you're faster than 13.99 seconds, and I am. So, I started looking around for a good solution. My requirements: Must be easy to get in and out of the car, as most of the time I'm not at the track; must look good; mustn't weigh too much; must be powdercoated for long-lasting finish.

I looked at a couple pre-fab kits for around $200, but for that money what you get is a bunch of bent bars, and you need someone to weld them up and install them. Anyway, I ended up scheduling Thornhill Engineering in Rancho Cordova to make a custom bar, as nothing just seemed to meet my needs. It has a removable driver's bar, that hinges out at for easy entry at the track, or can be completely removed for normal driving. The whole thing is Chrome Moly, and weighs 43lbs (compared to the Autopower at 33lbs). Since I have a convertible, he was able to make the whole bar in the car, then pull it out to have it powdercoated, before welding it down.

SFI rated rollbar padding is really important, if there's any chance that in an accident you may hit your head on the bar - even when wearing a helmet. Watch out for the cheap pads that look like pipe insulation from a hardware store - those are virtually useless in an accident. True SFI 45.1 rated pad is very hard foam, you can't squeeze it with your hand, and will absorb a shock much better. I used this pad available at Summit. Read this for some techie info on these pads.

Install: This is nice stuff. It comes with an adhesive strip of Velcro which you stick to the bar, then the pad just sticks to it. (actually, after a couple months, I found that this Velcro wasn't holding too well, so I added some separate strips of Velcro wrapped around every 18" or so)

Here's a pic of the installed rollbar, and my new Corbeau Carrera seats. On the right are the Crow 5-point harness I installed, in my effort to become NHRA-legal in the convertible. It'll unlatch when I'm not at the track, so I won't have all the straps bouncing all over the place.

If you're running faster than 11.99, or using a supercharger, turbocharger or nitrous, you need a transmission shield or blanket. I bought this T56 blanket (really a clutch/flywheel blanket, since it certainly doesn't cover the whole tranny) from Werx Performance, which seems to have gone out of business. As of summer 2001, Exotic Musclecar in Tempe, AZ, appears to be selling a similar blanket. If you've ever seen a flywheel explode, you want one of these.

Of course, nothing will guarantee a perfectly safe situation when you're racing your car, or even driving it on the street, and it's not my intention to imply so with these pages.

Copyright 1997-2004 David Mills, no part of this site (http://www.go-fast.org/) may be reproduced without permission of the author. The author makes no claims or guarantees as to the quality of the information on this site. I'm an enthusiast just like you, and while everything here is correct as I know it, I'm not responsible if your car breaks.