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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am wondering about the safety of a lotus with a roll cage, such as a exige cup vs the safety in a formula ford or similar open wheel car. My question is related to rollovers or something similarly as severe.

I know how fishguy is always pushing against using a lotus on the track due to repair costs but I havent read the argument regarding safety.

Mark
 

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I think that both cars with proper safety requirements (rollcage, HANS, fire suppression, arm restraints, etc.) are relatively safe when compared to each other. Some may argue that in the closed car you may have more protection against debris.

What made the decision for me was the $ cost of repair. If I bang up my SRF, it's a helluva lot cheaper than if I even bump my Elise.
It also would have cost me a lot more to install all safety requirements in the Lotus compared to buying a purpose-built racecar.
 

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I think that both cars with proper safety requirements (rollcage, HANS, fire suppression, arm restraints, etc.) are relatively safe when compared to each other. Some may argue that in the closed car you may have more protection against debris.

What made the decision for me was the $ cost of repair. If I bang up my SRF, it's a helluva lot cheaper than if I even bump my Elise.
It also would have cost me a lot more to install all safety requirements in the Lotus compared to buying a purpose-built racecar.
Eddie, When did you buy the SRF??? Does this mean we're not going to see you at LCS events anymore?
 

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Eddie, When did you buy the SRF??? Does this mean we're not going to see you at LCS events anymore?
Hey Randy,
haha....yea I picked it up a couple weeks ago....after getting my SCCA license, I wanted to do some w2w, and so I'm going to race both....still will be active in LCS, and I'll be doing SCCA SRF regionals for now :shift:

Btw, 1:28 is pretty dang good at SOW - good thing you avoided the carnage - what a mess!

But that's why to me, it's much cheaper in a wreck to repair the SRF.
 

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You can't get out of an Elise/Exige with the door closed and your helmet on...that's pretty sketchy but everyone hopes you won't ever be in a situation where your car is on fire and the doors are jammed. That would be, bad. Independent of cages and harnesses and seats, it's just a tiny car and getting out of it rolled over with the doors jammed would require helmet removal.
 

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Not apples to apples but I do feel safer in my Radical than the Exige - could be just because I don't know enough about the Exige's frame specs. The evac concerns mentioned above have merit too.

Still the speed and forces are so much less in a Lotus, but I hate to even say it out loud because we all need to be equally concerned about safety once we are out there period.

Separately, Eddie you got an SRF? Congrats! What is next?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
You can't get out of an Elise/Exige with the door closed and your helmet on...that's pretty sketchy but everyone hopes you won't ever be in a situation where your car is on fire and the doors are jammed. That would be, bad. Independent of cages and harnesses and seats, it's just a tiny car and getting out of it rolled over with the doors jammed would require helmet removal.

That is a good point. The exige cup roll cage seem to be much more robust with head and door protection vs. a open wheel formula ford type car. There is also a much farther distance from all directions in an impact. but I dont really know so that is why I am asking the question.

Mark
 

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Not apples to apples but I do feel safer in my Radical than the Exige - could be just because I don't know enough about the Exige's frame specs. The evac concerns mentioned above have merit too.

Still the speed and forces are so much less in a Lotus, but I hate to even say it out loud because we all need to be equally concerned about safety once we are out there period.

Separately, Eddie you got an SRF? Congrats! What is next?
Next would be a Radical!!! (trade? :p)

I agree though I think those of us with race cars feel pretty safe in them as they are purpose built for safety.
 

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Next would be a Radical!!! (trade? :p)

I agree though I think those of us with race cars feel pretty safe in them as they are purpose built for safety.
While true in terms of driver seat/belt/HANS/cage (all significant of course) I suspect that the Elise/Exige have more sophisticated crumple zones which should lead to lower shock loads transmitted to the driver in the event of an accident and therefore lower injury potential.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
comparison

While true in terms of driver seat/belt/HANS/cage (all significant of course) I suspect that the Elise/Exige have more sophisticated crumple zones which should lead to lower shock loads transmitted to the driver in the event of an accident and therefore lower injury potential.
I suppose it is not possible to do a direct safety comparison between the two because one would need empirical evidence with both cars in the same incident. I wonder if there are any open wheel drivers out there that have been in an on track incident and can provide any further insight.

Mark
 

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I suppose it is not possible to do a direct safety comparison between the two because one would need empirical evidence with both cars in the same incident. I wonder if there are any open wheel drivers out there that have been in an on track incident and can provide any further insight.

Mark
Mark,
If I were involved in an on track incident, I would much prefer to be in my sedan with the full race gear(cage, six pt. harness, halo seat etc.)

That said, I still cannot compare any sedan to the driving experience the open wheelers provide, they are quite thrilling.

Everything in life has its tradeoffs, I accept that the DB-1 that I race has risks that a sedan might not have, but I feel that diligent mechanical care of the car between sessions, and very good judgement on the track (not getting caught up in the red mist), keep me within my comfort level.

I also have chosen to drive a formula car of a vintage (1986) that has a front roll hoop, and have made sure that my body is as low as possible in the car so that my head is well below a line drawn from the front and rear roll hoops.

Furthermore, I am much more aware of who I am racing with in the open wheeler, and will give up a postion much more easily in the open wheel car than I might in my sedan. If i see someone is irratic, or doing foolish things that i feel like are dangerous, i keep my distance from them.

I know lancer360 mentioned something about not running his F500 in a group mixed with SRF cars(and the open wheel guys boycotted that offer to run like that), and i would concour that you need to be aware of things like this and make choices about the conditions that you might be racing under.


To answer the origional question, the Lotus cup car that comes from the factory (fully race prepped) is IMO safer than an open wheeler, but i would also venture to say that the open wheeler is MUCH safer than any car that has not been modified correctly for track usage, as in having a full cage, real racing seat, and harness that are all correctly installed; such as something someone uses on the street and takes out to the track for HPDE days and run in the advanced groups.

I also think there is a big difference in the engineering of Indy cars and F1 cars as far as crash safety, than cars like a Formula Ford. Perhaps others who have driven the more expensive open wheel cars (Formula Altantics, Pro Formula Mazdas, etc) can offer up more with regard to open wheelers with carbon fiber tubs. When i have looked at those cars, they look like they are a different (much more expensive) animal altogether from what I am in, but they do appear to offer more in the way of driver safety from what i have seen of them.

Mark, I hope that helps with your question.
Josh
 

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A properly caged Lotus should be no less safe in a severe rollover type of incident. Many of the rules around what makes a cage "legal" are the considerations of safety during such violent incidents. I would agree with Fishguy that a properly caged car is almost certainly better than most non-exotic (read: carbon fiber tubbed) racecars.

That said, if I didn't believe that my SRF provided an adequate level of safety for the environment in which it is used, I wouldn't be in it. One of the things that appealed to me was the ability to use it as a track day car; both because it is closed wheel, and because (for a purpose built race car) it's quite a tank. The sidepods, for example, are structural and fully boxed in, unlike those on formula cars. So if things go pear shaped and I get t-boned, at least I have 18" of "buffer" before we even get to the frame rails of the cockpit itself.

But from a safety standpoint, I would have no real reservations except egress with a Lotus Cup car. And I'd probably not let that worry me that much. The financial implications, though, are what did scare me (and hence the SRF). If I rip two corners off my SRF (literally, say, tear loose the suspension mounting points), I could have the car repaired, repainted, and shiny as new for less than $5,000 (probably a lot less, but let's assume things like a radiator were destroyed). On a Lotus that repair would exceed the value of my SRF, I suspect.

Steve
 
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