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Roll cages on Sprint cars


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#1 Flat Black 84

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Posted 21 November 2011 - 20:22

Can anybody tell me when roll cages on sprint cars became widespread in the US? My guess would be '67 at the earliest.

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#2 E1pix

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Posted 21 November 2011 - 21:26

Can anybody tell me when roll cages on sprint cars became widespread in the US? My guess would be '67 at the earliest.

Mine would be a guess as well... but I'd say around 1972.

#3 Jim Thurman

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Posted 21 November 2011 - 23:18

Can anybody tell me when roll cages on sprint cars became widespread in the US? My guess would be '67 at the earliest.

USAC and CRA mandated them for 1970. I believe IMCA did as well. Pretty much all sprint car groups had them for 1970. Most associations, one could run with a cage earlier, but they weren't mandatory.

#4 Flat Black 84

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Posted 21 November 2011 - 23:21

Jim, that gibes perfectly with the photographic research I just did, which suggests that cages were almost unheard of in '67, became slightly more prevalent in '68 and '69, and were practically universal in '70.

#5 racinggeek

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 05:06

USAC and CRA mandated them for 1970. I believe IMCA did as well. Pretty much all sprint car groups had them for 1970. Most associations, one could run with a cage earlier, but they weren't mandatory.


Were they absolutely mandated by USAC in '70, or were some older cageless cars grandfathered in? Reason I ask is I just checked Dick Wallen's book on USAC's 50-year anniversary, and it has a photo of Ralph Ligouri winning a 9/26/70 sprint feature at Williams Grove, Pa. in a non-cage car. Not sure if the photo is directly from that race, but the car number matches.

Edited by racinggeek, 22 November 2011 - 14:37.


#6 Peter Leversedge

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 10:29

I would think the early 70s.

#7 D-Type

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 13:30

Is there any reason why the various US sanctioning bodies would have mandated the use of cages at the same time? Possibly in response to a major incident. How was/is US racing set up with the various sanctioning bodies? Was/is there an overarching organisation? I know there is a single umbrella organisation that represents the USA on the FIA but does it have any power to instruct the member bodies?

#8 Flat Black 84

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 14:13

I'm not aware of any major accident/incident in '68 or '69 that would have instigated the roll cage mandate. Could be a case of safety being ahead of the curve for once.

#9 racinggeek

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 14:43

Is there any reason why the various US sanctioning bodies would have mandated the use of cages at the same time? Possibly in response to a major incident. How was/is US racing set up with the various sanctioning bodies? Was/is there an overarching organisation? I know there is a single umbrella organisation that represents the USA on the FIA but does it have any power to instruct the member bodies?


Off the top of my head, nothing that was out-of-the-ordinary bloody in 1968 or '69 in USAC Sprints. '66 was a particularly bad year as I recall, including a crash at the season-ending race -- at Ascot Park? -- that claimed Don Branson and Dick Atkins, and it was in the years after that when more and more cars started sprouting cages. I think it was just that other sanctioning bodies started using the cages, and there were a few USAC runners, like Greg Weld, who began using a cage before it was mandated.

#10 Bob Riebe

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 18:38

I kniow of no sanction after 1970 that did not require cages.
One thing I have read is some did not like caged cars running with non-caged cars, for, depending on the place, either safety or a perceived unfair advantage for the uncaged cars.


#11 Sisyphus

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 20:31

Super modifieds ran cages for quite a few years before sprint cars adopted them. So, there was certainly precedent for running a cage on these kinds of cars before USAC adopted them.

Growing up in the 60's in Missouri, super modifieds are what I mainly saw run on all the little quarter mile and half mile dirt tracks.

For those unfamiliar with the type, they were essentially sprint cars but with cheaper, lower tech motors--typically running a single 4 barrel carb in my area. These were not USAC sanctioned events and were more hobby or semi pro type racers.

As hairy as the super modifieds could be, the USAC sprinters running without cages was another level yet...

#12 Jim Thurman

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 00:09

Were they absolutely mandated by USAC in '70, or were some older cageless cars grandfathered in? Reason I ask is I just checked Dick Wallen's book on USAC's 50-year anniversary, and it has a photo of Ralph Ligouri winning a 9/26/70 sprint feature at Williams Grove, Pa. in a non-cage car. Not sure if the photo is directly from that race, but the car number matches.

I'll check the USAC Sprint History book...that is, after I find it.

#13 Jim Thurman

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 00:27

Is there any reason why the various US sanctioning bodies would have mandated the use of cages at the same time? Possibly in response to a major incident. How was/is US racing set up with the various sanctioning bodies? Was/is there an overarching organisation? I know there is a single umbrella organisation that represents the USA on the FIA but does it have any power to instruct the member bodies?

Yes, there was...

Kenny Gritz died in September 1969 at an IMCA race at the Nebraska State Fairgrounds. Gritz and his owner showed up for the race with a cage on their car. IMCA officials told them to remove it. Both Gritz and his owner argued that it offered no competitive advantage, but IMCA officials insisted. Gritz then died in the race. There was a lawsuit over it, and if you go by what has been written, that prompted insurance rates to rise, which in turn led to sprint car associations adopting cages for 1970.

Earlier that same year in USAC, Roy Young died in what was described as an otherwise survivable flip at Eldora, which shook and angered even veteran drivers in USAC. After that accident, several drivers were vocally pro-cage.

I assume the insurance rates became cost prohibitive for sprint car groups if they chose not to run cages and that is what caused the change for 1970.

While USAC was a member of ACCUS, none of the other sprint car associations were, so ACCUS would have had little influence. U.S. racing was (and still is) made up of literally hundreds of independent regional and local associations with no overarching organization.

Edited by Jim Thurman, 23 November 2011 - 08:29.


#14 Flat Black 84

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 14:47

Roll cages most certainly would provide a competitive advantage. Hence, I'd be far more likely to stand on it going into turn one at Winchester if I were protected by steel bars than if my upper body were exposed to the elements.

#15 Jim Thurman

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 16:56

Roll cages most certainly would provide a competitive advantage. Hence, I'd be far more likely to stand on it going into turn one at Winchester if I were protected by steel bars than if my upper body were exposed to the elements.

I'm not here to debate that, I'm simply reporting what occurred.

There was an argument or belief by some that adding cages would cause more injuries/fatalities because drivers would become overly "brave" and feel too secure with the added safety. But, that was offset by the number of otherwise fatal accidents that were prevented, especially those in relatively minor flips. All of which simply made those who were against roll cages look like Luddites...or worse.

#16 Flat Black 84

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 18:12

I'm not here to debate that, I'm simply reporting what occurred.



I know, Jim. Wasn't trying to start a fight.

And I do wonder--in light of Wheldon's accident--if/when roll cages will become mandatory in IRL. Personally, I don't think I'd want to be caged in one of those Dallaras if it burst into flame, as they have on more than a few occasions over the last couple of seasons.

#17 Bob Riebe

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 19:40

I know, Jim. Wasn't trying to start a fight.

And I do wonder--in light of Wheldon's accident--if/when roll cages will become mandatory in IRL. Personally, I don't think I'd want to be caged in one of those Dallaras if it burst into flame, as they have on more than a few occasions over the last couple of seasons.

The cages put on the rear-engined sprint cars, especially as Hansen showed, would allow anyone as much space as practical to get out.
Super-modified style cages could be adapted but then some would have fits about how ugly or old-school Indy cars were becoming.
Some of the items now in use such as the Hans device might have to be eliminated, as anything that jams the driver in would be dangerous.

#18 Bob Riebe

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 19:44

I'm not here to debate that, I'm simply reporting what occurred.

There was an argument or belief by some that adding cages would cause more injuries/fatalities because drivers would become overly "brave" and feel too secure with the added safety. But, that was offset by the number of otherwise fatal accidents that were prevented, especially those in relatively minor flips. All of which simply made those who were against roll cages look like Luddites...or worse.

Many of those against were the drivers taking the chance, who lost friends, to call them Luddites is silly, but as no one was going to build new cars without them, and at his point in time new cars were often a good bit quicker, that point became void.

#19 Flat Black 84

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 20:15

Some of the items now in use such as the Hans device might have to be eliminated, as anything that jams the driver in would be dangerous.


I'd think substituting a roll cage for the Hans device would constitute a net loss in safety.

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#20 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 23:12

Super modifieds ran cages for quite a few years before sprint cars adopted them. So, there was certainly precedent for running a cage on these kinds of cars before USAC adopted them.

Growing up in the 60's in Missouri, super modifieds are what I mainly saw run on all the little quarter mile and half mile dirt tracks.

For those unfamiliar with the type, they were essentially sprint cars but with cheaper, lower tech motors--typically running a single 4 barrel carb in my area. These were not USAC sanctioned events and were more hobby or semi pro type racers.

As hairy as the super modifieds could be, the USAC sprinters running without cages was another level yet...

Supermods in Oz always had substansial cages, as did the stockcars they evolved from.
Midgets grew cages around 1970, then it caused a furore over caged cars running with uncaged. Which is happening again in the classic ranks!

#21 D-Type

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 23:24

Is the furore directed against the caged cars or the uncaged ones?

#22 carl s

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 03:40

Joint meeting of The WRA (a non-caged traditional club -car #15) and a recently formed WCVR SWC (a caged club with much newer sprint and midget cars) at Havasu, AZ 1/4 mile oval.
Really gets your attention when surrounded by these monsters going into the corners with your 4" tires, no roll bar, nerf bars or cage.
Best solution seperate classes.
Btw: Very soon after the establishment of roll cages on 1970s contemporary sprint cars it was discovered that mandatory arm/restraints would be necessary to prevent maiming.
http://i1011.photobu...pg?t=1282710712

#23 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 09:58

Is the furore directed against the caged cars or the uncaged ones?

Both, it is dangerous running them together.
In classics some of the 70s cars did run without for a while. Which is stupid really as the cars were built with bolt on rollcages originally.

#24 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 09:58

Is the furore directed against the caged cars or the uncaged ones?

Both, it is dangerous running them together.
In classics some of the 70s cars did run without for a while. Which is stupid really as the cars were built with bolt on rollcages originally.

#25 Flat Black 84

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 15:06

That's a great pic, Carl. It's always a bit jarring to see substantially different cars on track at the same time. Some of those "run what you brung" pictures are amazing.

#26 Jim Thurman

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 20:29

Many of those against were the drivers taking the chance, who lost friends, to call them Luddites is silly, but as no one was going to build new cars without them, and at his point in time new cars were often a good bit quicker, that point became void.

I was thinking more in terms of the association officials and car owners. There were some drivers that were vocally against roll cages, I believe Bobby Unser was one. I'll have to dig through old racing papers, but as I recall, there was an interesting exchange on this subject at the time.

For a few years bolt on cages were used, so old cars were around for a bit.

The San Diego Racing Association allowed sprints to run with their super modifieds as long as they used bolt on cages, that was from c. 1965 on. The same cars/drivers would then remove the cages and race with the CRA sprints. Obviously, Gritz was able to run places with a cage as well. Pennsylvania tracks had cages fairly early as well.

And, of course, super modifieds evolving from stock cars, had cages and usually some small bit of bodywork representing a "top" that would cover the horizontal bars of the cage, or at least a portion of them.

So, the technology of cages had been around for a few years, but had been steadfastly resisted until the happenings that led to their implementation in 1970.

Edited by Jim Thurman, 27 November 2011 - 02:10.


#27 Jim Thurman

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 20:38

Btw: Very soon after the establishment of roll cages on 1970s contemporary sprint cars it was discovered that mandatory arm/restraints would be necessary to prevent maiming.
http://i1011.photobu...pg?t=1282710712

Good photo Carl :up:

Drivers arms flailed wildy in flipping cars long before cages. Granted, there wasn't the cage for ones hands and arms to carom off of or get caught under while flipping, but one only need see photos of some accidents from the era. The difference was, often the drivers died.

It's also interesting how long it took arm restraints to become mandatory. I'm not certain of the date, but I think it was more like 1977 or 1978 before they became mandatory, even though some drivers had used them earlier.

Edited by Jim Thurman, 24 November 2011 - 20:48.


#28 D-Type

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 21:12

Both, it is dangerous running them together.
In classics some of the 70s cars did run without for a while. Which is stupid really as the cars were built with bolt on rollcages originally.

I can't see why its dangerous. How can racing a car with a cage against a car without one be more dangerous for its driver than racing against a car with one? And vice versa.

If we take it as a given that a caged car is safer than an uncaged one, then it is true that racing an uncaged car is more dangerous than racing one of the caged cars it's racing against; but that does not make the race inherently dangerous.

It's not like racing totally different types of car, like say clubman's and big saloon cars. The cars have comparable power, straight line speed, braking, cornering speed and handling. Although a caged car is marginally heavier and has a marginally greater frontal area and drag co-efficient the difference in performance is negligible so performance difference is not an issue. It's non-contact racing so a direct collision should never occur. If one does, the cars are of similar weight so there is no risk of the lighter car coming off worse. If a single car goes off, it doesn't know what the opposition is: an uncaged car will be as unsafe or safe as any other uncaged car, and a caged car will be as safe or unsafe as any other caged car.

So what makes it dangerous to mix these particular two sub-types of car?

#29 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 06:32

I can't see why its dangerous. How can racing a car with a cage against a car without one be more dangerous for its driver than racing against a car with one? And vice versa.

If we take it as a given that a caged car is safer than an uncaged one, then it is true that racing an uncaged car is more dangerous than racing one of the caged cars it's racing against; but that does not make the race inherently dangerous.

It's not like racing totally different types of car, like say clubman's and big saloon cars. The cars have comparable power, straight line speed, braking, cornering speed and handling. Although a caged car is marginally heavier and has a marginally greater frontal area and drag co-efficient the difference in performance is negligible so performance difference is not an issue. It's non-contact racing so a direct collision should never occur. If one does, the cars are of similar weight so there is no risk of the lighter car coming off worse. If a single car goes off, it doesn't know what the opposition is: an uncaged car will be as unsafe or safe as any other uncaged car, and a caged car will be as safe or unsafe as any other caged car.

So what makes it dangerous to mix these particular two sub-types of car?

Pretty simple if you think about it. Speedway is close and hard with a lot of accidents, small and large. Get a roll cage into the cockpit of a non caged car and you have serious injury or worse. And it still happens even with classics.
Personally I would not drive a non cage car on dirt at all.That is why I play with a Super Mod, besides that I dont fit in most midgets !!

#30 D-Type

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 13:06

But surely a roll cage could also prevent something else getting into the cockpit of the uncaged car. Also, if there's no roll cage some other bit of the car would hit the other driver instead.
But what do I know? I wasn't there.

#31 Michael Ferner

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 19:14

The Pasadena Star News in California reported on August 24, in 1963:

CRA [the California Racing Association, premier Sprint Car sanctioning body in the West at the time] recently threw out "cage" roll bars to cover the cockpit. "We want our cars to look like sprint cars, not modifieds," said Phil Bradley [a CRA driver]. "Actually, if a driver just wears an over-the-shoulder harness, he's safe"


Background: seven weeks earlier, Frank McDaniel from Arizona had won a CRA feature event at his hometown's Tucson Speedway, apparently driving a "caged" Sprint Car. McDaniel was a regular (and incidentally the 1963 champion) of the ARA (Arizona Racing Association), a club which had pioneered roll cages on their "Fullhouse Cars" (a form of early Super Modifieds) in the fifties, and was now in the process of switching over to Sprint Cars. His win may well have been the very first in history for a caged Sprinter.


By the way, and apropos of nothing, the same Pasadena Star News article mentioned Jim Clark's visit to the Illinois State Fair dirt track 100-miler, and commented:

Clark, when asked if he'd like to try dirt track racing, said, "Oh, I dunno. It's kind of dungy"


:D

Edited by Michael Ferner, 26 November 2011 - 19:17.


#32 Flat Black 84

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 20:32

Dungy? Anybody around here speak Scots? I'm assuming it's a cross between "dirty" and "grungy."

#33 Michael Ferner

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 21:37

Well, I don't speak Scots (I just like to imbibe the stuff from time to time :drunk:), but I understood the comment as having to do with "dung"...


Digging a little further in the roll cage issue, I found out that the Arizona Racing Association ran its first full year for Sprint Cars in 1967, with roll cages mandatory on all cars!

#34 Flat Black 84

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 23:59

Digging a little further in the roll cage issue...


Trawling through the dung-heap of history, eh?

:stoned:

#35 mercnut

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Posted 27 November 2011 - 00:58

Trawling through the dung-heap of history, eh?

:stoned:

if there were no roll cages,where would you put the wing ?