Track Time versus Safety Equipment - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 06-26-2009, 04:35 PM Thread Starter
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Question Track Time versus Safety Equipment

...here's my situation - mehve is foremost a road car, enough so that intrusive safety equipment like harnesses, cages, HANS and the like would compromise her primary function, but i've really enjoyed the limited track time i've had, enough so that if the opportunity presented itself i'd gladly spend the preponderance of my leisure pushing her in time trials...track time would doubtless make me a much better driver, and is certainly a far safer environment than canyon carving, but the safety-focused drivers here have quite rightfully noted that if it's worth doing it's worth doing properly, with a full contingent of safety equipment...

...i'm caught between two worlds - on the one hand, i deeply value open-road touring and don't wish to compromise that experience with excess safety equipment (nor by stripping out weight which contributes to touring comfort), yet on the other hand i greatly appreciate the track experience but am reticent to commit without proper safety gear...

...so which is safer?..taking advantage of hard-driven track experience to make me a better driver on the roads, but without full track safety equipment, or staying off the track at the cost of less experience and perhaps the temptation to occasionally push things on the road harder than i should?..

...unfortunately, a dedicated track car isn't really an option for least the next four or five years, but maybe this whole discussion is academic and i should just start autocrossing with my stock seatbelts and helmet instead, especially considering that i probably can't afford significant track modifications regardless, so realistically i should recognise that i'd have difficulty affording the routine and unexpected expenses of tracking her, let alone the membership costs...

...i've probably already answered my own question, but thoughts?..

(motorsport is expensive!)

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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-13-2013, 03:47 PM
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I just sold my Cayman R for a Lotus 211.

Pathetic Cayman R was a street legal car, though it was mostly track driven. That said, it was very capable of doing both. In fact, I think some of the changes made it even more exciting as a road car.

I put in carbon fibre GT2 seats, 6 point harness, fire extinguisher, rear half cage. I also put GT3 lower control arms and toe links along with monoball bushings and a big brake kit.

These changes transformed the car at the track and made the car a safer more predictable place to be. But none of it made the car a worse road car. The cayman R is a compromised GT in stock trim. Not really most peoples idea of a daily driver. But if you are in a Lotus, you have already crossed that bridge.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-13-2013, 07:28 PM
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re: Track safety

I think You need to consider what your life and quality of life is worth vs. cost of safety and risk incurred.

You should consider which tracks you will use. Some are flat with lots of run-off and curves to keep speeds reasonable and incidents less traumatic.

You should consider people that you track with. There are all kinds!
HAving a heavy 3500lbs monster with 700hp run into you in a Lotus would be highly unpleasant.

I would then take an SCCA rule book and try to apply as much of it as possible.

Some pointers:

1. Rear toe links have to be fixed/replaced.
2. All suspension and brakes should be checked before every event.
3. There is a rear hoop built-in. It is of good size. It needs belt bar and cross-bar. Putting something in will not detract from the car at all.
4. The roll protection over the winshield is not good. It is just a flimsy fiberglass frame. I am not sure how to fix the knee bar, an equivalent of front hoop and side bars.
5. Side bars inside doors are OK, but not regulation. If that 3500lbs monster t-bones you, you're gone. This happened to a Trans-AM car at Mosport at 160mph. The driver died. Trans-am and SCCA regs where changed for better side intrusion.
6. Real fire suystem ($500), not the clip on extinguisher is a must. See posts around here about fires.... (Clip-on extuinguishers mimick NHRA rule. Remember drag racers carry only 1gal of fuel, you have 15! It burns long and hot!).
7. 5 or 6-point belts can be installed with the regualr ones for track use. I used to run stock belt and 6-point in my Vette. Used the stock on the street and 6-point on the track. This is a $150 expense.
8. Buy proper helment, suit, shoes, gloves and baclava. Practice geting out of the car quickly.
9. Keep roof on and windows at least 2/3rd up to keep you arms and head in the car.

Upgrading wheels, tires, brakes, sway bars, bushings (to spherical) will add a margin of safety, as well, as making your car more enjoyable on the street.

You maybe able to get HANS to work with aftermarket seat....? Has anyone tried?

I see side intrusion and lack of front roll-over protection as the biggest issue that does not have a simple solution.

Anton
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-14-2013, 06:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ...m... View Post
a dedicated track car isn't really an option for least the next four or five years...
Well, that is about now, so get the track car.

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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-14-2013, 10:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ageshelin View Post

8. Buy proper helment, suit, shoes, gloves and baclava.
Not only delicious, sweet, and flakey, but also apparently safer than improper baclava.

Jason

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My frame, rear subframe, steering rack, A-arms, front crash structure, suspension uprights, and fuel tank are stock.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-16-2013, 03:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ageshelin View Post
I think You need to consider what your life and quality of life is worth vs. cost of safety and risk incurred.

You should consider which tracks you will use. Some are flat with lots of run-off and curves to keep speeds reasonable and incidents less traumatic.

You should consider people that you track with. There are all kinds!
HAving a heavy 3500lbs monster with 700hp run into you in a Lotus would be highly unpleasant.

I would then take an SCCA rule book and try to apply as much of it as possible.

Some pointers:

1. Rear toe links have to be fixed/replaced.
2. All suspension and brakes should be checked before every event.
3. There is a rear hoop built-in. It is of good size. It needs belt bar and cross-bar. Putting something in will not detract from the car at all.
4. The roll protection over the winshield is not good. It is just a flimsy fiberglass frame. I am not sure how to fix the knee bar, an equivalent of front hoop and side bars.
5. Side bars inside doors are OK, but not regulation. If that 3500lbs monster t-bones you, you're gone. This happened to a Trans-AM car at Mosport at 160mph. The driver died. Trans-am and SCCA regs where changed for better side intrusion.
6. Real fire suystem ($500), not the clip on extinguisher is a must. See posts around here about fires.... (Clip-on extuinguishers mimick NHRA rule. Remember drag racers carry only 1gal of fuel, you have 15! It burns long and hot!).
7. 5 or 6-point belts can be installed with the regualr ones for track use. I used to run stock belt and 6-point in my Vette. Used the stock on the street and 6-point on the track. This is a $150 expense.
8. Buy proper helment, suit, shoes, gloves and baclava. Practice geting out of the car quickly.
9. Keep roof on and windows at least 2/3rd up to keep you arms and head in the car.

Upgrading wheels, tires, brakes, sway bars, bushings (to spherical) will add a margin of safety, as well, as making your car more enjoyable on the street.

You maybe able to get HANS to work with aftermarket seat....? Has anyone tried?

I see side intrusion and lack of front roll-over protection as the biggest issue that does not have a simple solution.

Anton

EXCELLENT write up! Anton hit on key points. Toe links and inspections are a must. Adding a harness bar and multi*point belts are a must and do not take anything away from a street car. Remember that you are talking about your life here. Small expenses to keep you alive. Enough said!

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-16-2013, 06:12 PM
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Umm, notice that the OP was over four years ago...
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 11-16-2013, 06:41 PM
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I think this is still a relevant thread that applies to many of us.

Re: toe links, everyone says to upgrade them. My car has had a lotus toe link brace fitted from day 1. Does this fix the issue completely or should I ditch it all and put an SSC toe link kit on it? Car has 8K miles and has as quite a bit of track time.

Is there anything else other than the toe links that prone to failure in the suspension?

Re: cage and lack of side intrusion, my car is a cup 240 as has the full
Lotus sport cage fitted. This cage does not have an intrusion bar for the sides. However, you sit so low in the tub that I'm not sure it's necessary as the sills of the tub act as the side protection.

Re: HANS device, are they able to be used with the probax seats? I would assume so.
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