Our friends at Speedway Motors have dirt track racing covered from alpha to omega. Left to right. Beginning to end. No matter how you size it up, they have a division or partnership with every aspect of the sport. Take racing seats for example. Eagle Motorsports Inc. (EMi), a division of Speedway Motors, handles practically everything you could want in the open wheel market. From micro and mini-sprints to the fire-breathing 410 full-sized sprint cars, EMi and Speedway Motors has you covered.
Safety in open wheel racing has changed dramatically since Speedway Motors’ founder “Speedy Bill” Smith was running from track-to-track with Jan Opperman and Doug Wolfgang in the purple 4X Speedway Motors’ house car. Contemporary manufacturing technology, along with modern materials and best safety practices, have provided a more secure environment for drivers. There are few areas that have advanced as much as racing seats have in the past two decades.
EMi’s Frank Galusha took the time to explain the most important aspects of racing seats in the video provided by Speedway Motors. The two major topics of discussion were broken into the primary safety concerns of racers; How to properly fit a seat, and how to mount the seat into a race car. One is as equally important as the other.
Proper Seat Fitment
Galusha begins by showing an easy but fundamental approach to measuring yourself for a racing seat. Sitting on a flat surface like a table or bench where someone can assist with the measuring, the person being fitted for a seat should assume a racing posture. Galusha calls this a “race position,” which is nothing more than the comfortable racing position that you normally get into at the track – only this time you are sitting in the open.
Try to emulate the driving position you are normally in when you do your best racing, then have your assistant, or yourself, measure across your hips, from one side to the other. Galusha mentions using 2 x 4 boards on the outside of your hips to help get a solid measurement, but any flat surface can be used for the measurement. This measurement is critical in selecting your seat. Pick one that is very close to your hip measurement. Too loose and you could easily get hurt bouncing around in the seat during a crash. Too tight and you won’t fit or the ride will be so uncomfortable that you will spend more time thinking about the seat than driving your car safely.
Proper Seat Installation
Once you have selected a seat that fits your body properly, and meets the criteria for the type of racing that you are doing, it can be installed in the vehicle. There are a few things that must be adhered to when installing the seat.
- You should have a MINIMUM of four points of contact between the seat and the vehicle. EMi recommends six points of contact.
- Use large fender washers on both the seat side and the vehicle side to distribute the load when bolting the seat into the vehicle.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when mounting your seat. There are several different styles of seats, from highback and full containment to lowback bucket style for vintage racecars. Each type of seat has different installation instructions and for obvious safety reasons, these instructions should be followed.
- Keep in mind that not all seats are built the same. Some are full containment seats, others are built for full fender stock cars with a comfortable layback that ranges from 8- to 20-degrees.
Galusha finishes the video with an important note about shoulder belts. Once the seat is in the vehicle, the driver should get in the seat and the shoulder belts should be checked to ensure they are mounted one inch below the tops of the shoulders. The reasoning behind this is two-fold: first, it minimizes belt stretch, and second, it still allows the belts to come up and over the shoulder, and when tightened will pull the driver down into the seat securely.