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Thread: Track day safety

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    Ninja Messiah kung fu jesus's Avatar
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    Track day safety

    I wanted to begin a discussion of safety equipment for amateur autosports. There is a lot of gear and choices, both in price point and protection. A lot of it can be difficult to understand or size, more importantly it can hard to discern what is more important than the other and how it all works together. If you have questions, fire away! I will try to offer advice or point you in the right direction, add other pieces of information, and hopefully others will as well to help you protect yourself while having fun.

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    3,000 rpm - starting to feel the power freedomgli's Avatar
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    For starters, I think it makes sense to have the right attitude about safety. Your attitude will impact your budget, equipment choices, and other lifestyle decisions such as what track day organizations to run with, how much sleep you get the night before an event, health care insurance, long-term care insurance, living will, last will and testament, etc. All motorsports are inherently dangerous and no matter how good of a driver you are, you can still die (or worse yet, become permanently disabled) due to a myriad of factors or conditions, not all of which are in your control.

    I personally want to live to a ripe old age, take care of my family's needs first, meet my grandchildren, etc. So rather than take a fatalistic approach to safety, I choose to take a more risk averse approach and make a bigger effort to mitigate those risks. Your mileage may vary.

    Having a dual-purpose street/track car is an exercise fraught with difficult compromises. Folks don't often jump into the deep end of this hobby right away. They usually start off small and make incremental changes along the way as needed. Therefore, periodically take the time to perform the observe, orient, decide, and act (OODA) feedback loop to ensure your investment in your personal safety matches your attitude about safety and your abilities. If you can't afford an item of safety equipment but your safety attitude dictates that it is a necessary item, then it is better hang up your driving gloves until you can afford it. So in my book, attitude is the #1 safety device to keep you happy and alive. Everything else stems from that.

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    4,000 rpm - entering the fun zone RustRat's Avatar
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    For starters, even though my car doesn't roll at the moment, I plan to go to some track days.

    My car is mainly a street car. I have a single diagonal roll bar. What safety equipment do I need, that won't be dangerous for me or my passenger when I'm not at the track, and I don't wear a helmet? Seats? 4 point harnesses? Quick release? Fire extinguisher easily accessible?

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    Quote Originally Posted by RustRat View Post
    For starters, even though my car doesn't roll at the moment, I plan to go to some track days.

    My car is mainly a street car. I have a single diagonal roll bar. What safety equipment do I need, that won't be dangerous for me or my passenger when I'm not at the track, and I don't wear a helmet? Seats? 4 point harnesses? Quick release? Fire extinguisher easily accessible?

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    Excellent questions. With any dual-purpose car, you have to accept it will be a compromise. There are very smart decisions you have to make based on the use and inherent risk you will put you and your passengers into.

    If you have a rollbar, install padding on it. SFI-rated is helpful, but be aware is is intended to be used with a helmet. Again, all safety gear works as a system. Seats with taller backs can also be helpful to reduce the risk of striking a rollbar with your head.

    Missing components can be as dangerous with as without them. If your car is mainly a street vehicle, I would probably leave the stock safety systems in there. I do not like 4 pt harness at all. It is too easy the submarine in a frontal accident as well as slip through them. Not to mention the risk for basal skull fractures. Schroth makes a 4pt harness that is passable for dual use, but it is generally accepted that harnesses are an off-road use item that, again is part of a safety system. Mayn times, too People install the harnesses wrong and they can severly compress the occupant in and accident, injuring them.

    If you are going to run aftermarket seats, the mounts are the most critical components. Check with the organization you will be participating with for motorsports to see what their safety regulations are. SFI and FIA are different regulations and knowing which is acceptable is key. In the US, FIA-certified gear will usually be universally acceptable. Those certifications expire, so be aware of that when purchasing. They can be re-certified, for an inspection fee, or made to be passable with a re-certification (adding a back brace). FIA certification for a seat is a big deal for the manufacturer and the end-users. FIA lists, and continually updates, which seats are certified.

    This is useful info when looking for items:
    http://www.fia.com/safety-equipment

    Adam did a nice writeup on quick release steering wheel devices here:

    http://revlimiter.net/blog/2016/04/q...ease-review-1/

    I think it is interesting and worth a read. Your safety is ultimately going to come down to your personal preferences, budget, and intentions. The key is be sure you are protecting yourself in the event of a mishap. I see far too many people in street cars at track events driving waaaaay too fast, spending a lot of money to do so, but spending those dollars on the wrong gear. The main purpose for these events is to improve your driving ability in a safe environment. Top speed and maximum grip are exciting, but relying on your car's stock safety equipment to protect you when you have made modifications to exceed the vehicle's standard parameters should give you pause to consider the 'what if' paradox.

    Fire extinguishers, there are a few different Miata-specific extiguisher mounts, here are a few:

    http://www.good-win-racing.com/Mazda...t/61-1715.html

    http://www.ogracing.com/brey-krause-...nt-mazda-miata

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    2,000 rpm - light wheelspin, no bog here! CollinMB's Avatar
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    I bought my first Miata with the intention of going to the track, but I didn't end up going for 2 years because of my personal safety goals.

    My "bare minimum" for track was
    1. Snell approved helmet.
    2. Proper bucket seat with adequate bolstering (FIA preferable)
    3. SCCA/NASA approved roll bar with padding
    4. Sport tires that can handle heat

    I would not recommend harnesses, however, unless you are planning to get a HANS at the same time.

    If you are worried about safety and don't have the budget, go to autocross. A lot of the fun for a fraction of the price/investment.

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    This is a flow chart a friend of mine made. It is a pretty had assessment assessment, but not unfair.

    Attachment 16184

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    3,000 rpm - starting to feel the power freedomgli's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kung fu jesus View Post
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    Supporting Member MiataQuest's Avatar
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    Frue or Talse?
    * When using the stock factory seat belts for a track day you should also have the stock factory steering wheel with an operational air bag.
    * Aftermarket non-airbag steering wheels should only be used in conjunction with a racing seat belt harness.
    * Racing seat belt harnesses should not be used with an air bag.
    Last edited by MiataQuest; 06-20-2016 at 02:25 PM.

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    6,000 rpm - mere mortals would shift NCGreasemonkey's Avatar
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    If you remove the airbag from your early NA you need to remove the rip-stop from the seat belt.

    http://mazdaroadster.net/showthread....l=1#post137171
    ... Rick

    Quote Originally Posted by Hammerhead View Post
    ...and don't be like an NCGreasemonkey.
    For the thread on Noir click below
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    Quote Originally Posted by freedomgli View Post
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    Thanks! Let's see if this works.


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    Track day safety

    Quote Originally Posted by MiataQuest View Post
    Frue or Talse?
    * When using the stock factory seat belts for a track day you should also have the stock factory steering wheel with an operational air bag.
    * Aftermarket non-airbag steering wheels should only be used in conjunction with a racing seat belt harness.
    * Racing seat belt harnesses should not be used with an air bag.
    I am not an expert, but have been around these discussions a few times. It is a slippery slope and I don't do all that is recommended, but I'm trying.

    In any case, this is what I have learned about what you asked:

    1 - yes, the stock systems should be used. It is up to the promoter (their underwriter), the track, and/or governing body. Airbags are not required. An operational seat belt is required. However, you will see participants with a combination of OE and aftermarket safety equipment.

    Some prescribe to the idea that an airbag may be more harmful with a helmet on, particularly an open-face type because it can catch or twist from the airbag in a deployment situation. I know people who have disabled their SRS equipment at motorsports events for similar reasoning.

    Some also say the early Miatas have a more powerful, lower tech airbag that may be effective, but more apt to injure than modern SRS tech.

    I am not going to comment on what anyone should do. You must consider the environment of a Motorsport event, obstacles, and barriers, including other participants.

    2 - The second paragraph covers that. NCGM touches on that as well concerning the webbing. It is a choice you must consider. I believe Virginia requires you to have operating SRS in your vehicle, if it came equipped as such from the factory. I think another point to be made is about the quality of an aftermarket wheel as a piece of safety equipment as well. A flimsy Ebay special may look cool, but will deform or break in an incident. Same for quick release devices. You really want to be smart with your money and buy from a reputable manufacturer.

    3 - Your call. If you are using a 5-6 point harness properly, you won't come close to the airbag. I personally wouldn't because if the airbag sets off from a non-collision event, you now have the remnants hanging off your wheel. Think of a situation where you might get a bit airborne while exiting the tarmac. In older, momentum switch SRS systems, the landing could set it off. It could daze you while you are still trying to control the car, most likely spider webbing the windshield, and obscuring your vision. Also, if that goes off while your hands are crossed up on the steering wheel, there is a good chance of suffering a broken arm from it. So, it could be detrimental in a few situations.

    Harnesses should only be used with seats that have provisions for them, though many do not. The purpose is to hold you to the seat, including not allowing you to submarine. Improper use of sub belts can allow a partial submarining to occur, causing injury. There are also a few instances of sub belts causing...scrotal injuries...during improper use and installation. I have seen pictures, you really don't.
    Last edited by kung fu jesus; 06-20-2016 at 08:04 PM.

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    3,000 rpm - starting to feel the power freedomgli's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kung fu jesus View Post
    Thanks! Let's see if this works.
    Yes, that works.

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    4,000 rpm - entering the fun zone wannafbody's Avatar
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    Lots of people show up to a trackday with a car that has too much hp and stock brake pads-not a good combo. After a couple trackdays, once you get a bit of speed, upgrade to better pads. Then better tires. I'm also surprised at the number of Miata owners who show up for a trackday without a rollbar.

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    Track day safety

    If you show up at an HPDE in a Miata without a rollbar, you won't touch the track.

    Your first few track events, the focus should be showing up in a car that is 100% on maintenance. Better pads for sure, but run it as you drive it. The goal is to learn, practice, improve. Hiding deficiencies with mods and parts isn't good.

    I've sat in too many cars as an instructor where the novice is looking for top speed without being humble enough to realize they don't have the skill to do it.

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    6,000 rpm - mere mortals would shift NCGreasemonkey's Avatar
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    Slower is faster in most forms of racing. There are moments where there is no time to think and instinct kicks in. But if you have your mind set in the path you have emblazoned in your head that you are running that day. You know what the temps are and listen to the tires. Keep your logs of temps., pressures and every other COPD thing your body can conjurer up.

    Drag, Auto-X and track days are all about data and learning! You start with a base-line. And strive to improve as you move on.
    ... Rick

    Quote Originally Posted by Hammerhead View Post
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