Accessible Endurance Racing: Safety Gear And Interior Stripping Part 2
In this weeks update on our 24 Hours Of Lemons team we cover how we almost had a fight over team concept, stripped for each other and acquired some items to hold us down and spray us when things got hot. We also explore our weight loss goals and what “bolt on comparability” really means in race terms.
Interior Stripping (Part 2)
This week we finished nearly all of the interior stripping. Yet, still there is more to do. We removed all of the airbags without setting any of them off, the sunroof without breaking the glass, and fixed a door that wouldn’t open. We also removed the dash. We still have to remove the final brace and the take out the center console vents and heater core. That should be completed in the next week.
Otherwise, our vehicle should be ready for the roll cage install. The car goes next week for this to be done. Still not 100% sure we got everything the cage installer wanted out, but hopefully we got everything needed or at least close.
Safety Gear Acquisition
In addition to the interior removal we have begun acquiring the safety gear to install in the car. When buying things, we are aiming to exclusively shop at local businesses (whenever possible). So far, we’ve purchased (and mostly received):
- Racing Seat
- Seat Slider
- Seat Bracket
- Racing Harness
- HANS Device (Head and Neck Restraint)
- Fire Suppression System
- Roll Cage Install Scheduled
- Master Kill Switch
We have been pretty casual about getting the racing seat. They seemed to be a dime a dozen. However, we quickly discovered a few things. True race seats that would keep us safe do not come in a universal size like the Recaro or Sparco seats in the sport version of your factory car. Also, most of those aftermarket seats can’t handle a true 5 point harness and are generally not safety rated.
The need for the seat took on urgency when we schedule our roll cage install. Since we’ve never done this before I didn’t realize we should have our seat in place prior to doing the cage install. It seems cages are generally 100% custom and if he didn’t have the final seat placement he might run the risk the cage blocks the seat from moving far enough back for our tallest driver. My suggestion to simply cut off the legs of the tallest driver were not well received.
This started a rather lengthy process of measuring our rather diversely sized driving team, finding the size seat we needed and attempting to locate it. Sounds easy right? Well, except for a few things. We needed the largest size seat which almost nobody stocked. Also, we learned there is a pandemic going on and racing gear is considered not essential. That means product has been limited or even complete shutdown in some places. (We joke, but understand the impacts to peoples health and the economy are real).
Thankfully we found a seat in stock at Summit racing in McDonough. While it was a size smaller than would have been ideal, we all decided over beers and chicken wings we should lose some weight so we fit. We’re off to a great start. You keep your summer body, we’re working on our our race body.
Seat we purchased: A Kirkey 65 series 17″ seat. It came highly recommended, was cost effective and many Lemons racers use them so we knew there was a good chance we’d pass tech.
Race Seat installation
Given the diverse size of our team we knew we’d need a slider. Our team ranges literally from 5’2″ to 6’4″. There was no way an single seat placement would work. Since 24 Hours Of Lemons (as with most competitive racing) requires the seat to have no play and not be easily adjustable by the drive while the car in motion we opted for a racing seat slide. We also purchased the matching Kirkey Mounting Bracket.
We soon learned our first lesson regarding “bolt on compatability” in racing products. While the instructions with the seat and bracket said that you must at minimum have 4 bolts holding the seat to the bracket and the bracket to the floor (or cage), the mounting bracket from the same manufacturer and specifically designed for our model seat, only had 2 bolt holes. So drilling had to happen.
Also turns out because Kirkey doesn’t make sliders the sliders we got (while good), also did not line up at all. And none of them lined up correctly with the mounting points on the floor of the vehicle. Thankfully team member Steve volunteered to fabricate the mounting and drill the holes. My understanding is he blew an entire weekend doing it and was completely frustrated and pissed by the end of it. No good deed goes unpunished.
Fire Suppression System, Harness and HANS Device
While shopping for seats our first stop was to RaceDaySafety.com in Dallas, GA. They come highly recommended from the sportsman racing community and for good reason. Run by a husband and wife team, we were highly impressed with our helpfulness and knowledge.
Laura walked us through helmets, race seats, fire suppression system and the HANS devices. She also let us try on suits and made recommendations. We wound up buying the Seat from somewhere else because they were out of stock and our lack of planning became an emergency. However, we did ultimately purchase all of the rest of the safety equipment they stocked from them. We’ll have an update on the harness and fire suppression system install after we get the car back from the cage builder.
Master Kill Switch
Since Race Day Safety didn’t sell master kill switches, and we wanted to spread our shopping around a little, we bought our master kill switch and required sticker from DiscoverParts. DiscoveryParts is the racing parts retail and online store located within Atlanta Motorsports Park. They have a great selection of safety items and a very deep catalog of parts.
The process was painless to purchase online and offered shipping or pickup. While we didn’t buy enough to get free shipping, we ultimately choose pickup to give us an excuse to check out the retail store. While we were glad we did, lets just say its not the kind of place you just drop in at. Because it is literally inside of Atlanta Motorsports Park, you have to go through the gate and sign the legal waivers. Not knowing this I choose to bring my family along for a nice drive, hoping they’d keep me company (spoiler alert, they didn’t). So not only did I need to do fill out the wavier for myself, I had to do it for a car full of people. Rookie mistake.
Still, despite the trek to the artic north and the significant legal documentation required, it was a great store.
Minus the few remaining interior pieces we are wrapping up this week, our next major odyssey is the actual cage install. That has been scheduled with a local Atlanta fabrication shop. We look forward to profiling their work and shop, which came highly recommended. We can already tell you they are very patient with people who have no idea what they are doing.