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Harness fitment and associated items.

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#1 Lee Nicolle

Lee Nicolle
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Posted 29 August 2017 - 23:36

Having had a spirited conversation last night about mounting seat belts in racecars and the correct way.

The bloke on the other side of the conversation races Speedway Sedans. They have to have the shoulder belts below the shoulder height of the driver. Which if you think about it is very dumb, that in part is what killed Dale Earnhardt.

The outcome of that is that the shoulder belts should be level or slightly above the shoulder otherwise the driver will 'submarine' under the lap belt. The shoulder belts are to stop forward momentum alone, the lap belts are to hold your trunk in case of a rollover. And the crutch strap/ straps stop forward movement as well. 

Having worn [in hindsight] inefective belts all my racing career I have been lucky with no real injury. Though I have also been smart enough to stay out of most trouble!

The lap belt should be below and behind the seating position and the crutch straps immediatly below the driver.


Then we come to the HANS device, it really is only good for one type of accident, straight ahead where it should [and not always] restrict the extension of the drivers head. And now several years after the use of said  item you can actually buy belts that support it better,,, but in effect makes the belt weaker as it goes back to 2" over the unit. Supposedly the belts are as strong but I do doubt it. Some Sprintcar drivers still wear the simple and effective foam neck brace as it is actually better than the HANS, especially in rollovers into the fence. 


All of the above can be semi negated by the semi 'lay down' seating in many cars. A reason I would never race said cars as you are already at risk of submarining under the belts. Far better sitting up straight in the car. F1 as an example is a bit better these days but hardly ideal.


Having watched various forms of Motorsport on TV and more so You Tube in recent times some competitors are trying to kill themselves! Drag racers with the belts way below shoulder level and not very tight, even offroad racers with much the same. Though some under 10 second Drag racers are going very quick with the mandated rollcage and a parachute,,, sitting on a saggy old bench seat!. These 150mph cars. So clearly no crutch strap which I realise these days is an essential part of the whole deal.

In my semi retirement I run a Classic Speedway Supermodified with 3" 5 point lever lock belts. Can you even get 6 point?  The brand name one in the car currently is bloody hard to do up by yourself and had a piece of velcro to stop accidental release. Problem was it was so awkward I cut it off!

The tintop that I do the occasional hillclimb and Supersprint in has a 6 point camlock buckle that I far prefer. Though for very good reason banned on dirt as the dirt makes the buckle less than reliable.


The modified has the traditional [and original style]  'rib breaker' seat that wraps around your ribs on the right side and little on the left. Low back ofcourse so little shoulder support though the head restraint is part of the rollcage immediatly behind the drivers head. Not ideal but all that actually fits with my 6ft 1 and 90 odd kilos. And the speeds are not super high. Wearing the foam neckbrace is mandatory and actually very good. 

The tintop has a far better seat with rib and shoulder support and high back. A seat style that over the years I have proven to be good,, I was the crash test dummy!  I am looking at putting 'ears' on the seat to help my horrid neck in a shunt. Though they are often called 'blinkers' as they do restrict periphial vision

Doing so though requires the rib and shoulder support, doing so on the speedway seat without the shoulder support would be the potential to break my neck as my body flails around unsupported.


I know this is all a bit longwinded BUT it is very important and sometimes boring subject.

Who has any other thoughts?

Edited by Lee Nicolle, 29 August 2017 - 23:37.