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Track Day Prep - Side Impact Protection/etc


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I've just started doing track days this year in a well setup Turbo NA Miata, my ND Miata, and I did get enough miles/hrs on my Caterham to take it out on track recently but keeping the revs below 5k to continue the break in process.   I've also done a couple ride alongs in a very fast Turbo Exocet w/slicks which was enlightening.  I'm looking to get my Caterham and myself better prepared so I can drive on the street and do track days as well.

 

My philosophy for track days listed by priority:

1) Don't hurt the car

2) Have fun, learn the lines, and try to be smooth

3) Try to improve some aspect of my driving on each track day

 

At 64 years of age I'm under no illusion that I'll ever be one of the "fast" guys but I'm really having fun!

 

What I have so far for the Caterham/myself:

 

Track day roll bar

Petty Strut

Clear aeroscreen (easily switchable with the captive nut brackets)

13" Revolutions w/ Toyo R888R (to be used at a later date, using stock 14" for now)

PPF on critical areas, and spare yellow nose cone just for track days

CHMSL and LED bulbs for all brake lights

SA2020 Bell K1 Pro

 

In the process of acquiring:

 

Simpson Hybrid Sport

6-pt harness

Arm restraints

 

What I'm looking for is input on addtional safety equipment, specifically side impact protection.  I plan on this being a dual purpose use vehicle and don't want to go to a full cage, and if I did go to a side impact bar I would want it to be removeable.  When I first looked at the Caterham SIB it looked like it was mounted close to the body and wouldn't provide much crush space between the driver and the object being hit.  I did a quick visual layout with some 1.5" cooling hose and felt like extending a SIB 8" from the body side would give some added protection and leave some extra elbow room.  When I had the Cat on track I was keeping my arm inside the body and it wasn't always comfortable to drive like that. 

 

I know a talented welder/fabricator who I've talked to about options but I'm looking for ideas specific to a Seven. 

 

1) Does anyone have experience with the Cat SIB or is there a better option available somewhere? 

2) Would something like the following photo fabricated with 1.5" steel tube be beneficial?  The tube would be clamped to the rollbar and bolted to the existing front threaded boss near the dash.  It would extend 8" out from the body and then taper towards the front near the dash.  I had a hard time drawing the curve in the photo.  The bar would extend out from the rollbar parallel to the ground and then curve towards the front.

 

1557750468_SideBar.thumb.jpg.a309271d96afc195bb9f6d8a0e45a7f8.jpg

 

 

Edited by 11Budlite
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KitKat's track car roll cage has the best side impact protection that I've seen anyways, see link below to his pics. It has multiple support points along the length. 

 

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Hi Bruce.  I don't recall if you have a S3 or SV chassis, but if the latter than I'm told there is no Caterham option for just the side impact bar for the LHD cars.  The only option for side impact with a SV chassis in LHD is the Superlight cage.  I believe there is an option for the S3 chassis, but haven't confirmed with absolute certainty. 

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There used to be SV sized side impact bars - two components to it - a side impact bar then a separate rear wheel bar.  The photo below illustrates

 

HD_SIB_Aero_Side_Labelled.jpeg.136fd01d22a052fe88ccb9eb36441262.jpeg

 

Looking at the Caterham parts website shows only the RWIB bar available for 1 side only.  Its CSR but should still fit an SV if confirmed with Caterham parts.  They used to fit LHD and RHD - I saw one on a Caterham SV in CA once:

Rear Wheel Protection Bar - LHS - CSR (caterhamparts.co.uk)

 

 

However, this style was superseded around 2015-16 for an integrated side protection on the S3 chassis - they never did the same update for the SV/CSR as @Pokeypoints out.   

 

IMG_9384.jpeg.4a926b3e983a2e5e74d80b8b70cf2eb8.jpeg

 

Keep in mind, both the old and the new form of side intrusion bar interfered with the doors opening and closing when in road touring mode.  Also there would be a gap at the front of the doors so it will leak in rain - that could be annoying for you - something to consider.  

 

As @sf4018points out, Kitcat's cage is the best design i have seen for side impact as it bows out to create clearance for a driver.  There was someone in the PA/DE area who made some custom cages for a few people.  @yellowss7 Tom - can you please jog the memory on who you used?   Maybe you take a custom approach cribbing from Kitcat's style of cage to develop an impact bar?

 

 

 

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Mike, George Alderman’s nephew, who I Believe George said built Cages for Nascar, built it.  He started with my Caterham FIA tall roll bar and added the D  hoops, front and side impact bars.    

0D78940A-A0C7-4BCA-A636-9D76395F2BE5.jpeg

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Thanks everyone for sharing your knowledge and photos.  My car is a 2019 S3 so a narrow body metric chassis.

 

Croc - I had seen the two photos that you posted before, and it looks like the only one available from Caterham now is the one from the blue/yellow car.  I think this is the one: https://caterhamparts.co.uk/side-intrusion-bars/3702-side-impact-bar-lh-s3-metric-chassis.html

 

One of my concerns with the latest SIB from Caterham is how low it's mounted on the body, I really want the bar to protect a little higher up.  I have access to a tubing bender and a little free time this week, so I might just try bending a single main bar using ideas from Kitcat's and Tom's setup.  I'll update as I learn more. 

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Not sure my approach is practical for most Caterham owners but I will share in case someone wants an extra emphasis on safety for a clone build.

I took my  1959  series 1 completely apart when I imported it from the UK so I was essentially starting from scratch. That was before external cages were invented, so I followed recommended practice for SCCA class D Production at that time (even though series 2 were the official Super 7s of the time). That was to have an internal roll bar or cage that went all the way to the floor for attachment. I also attached my cage to the top part of the frame thus adding stiffness. I also have 2  horizontal side bars and triangulated the front of the cage forward on the frame. It all adds weight but series 1 were very light to start with. For driver's side extra crash protection I have a rectangular panel employing a sandwich of 304 stainless steel with 4 layers of Kevlar cloth, a polycarbonate sheet and 4 more Kevlar. That is an attempt to stop/slow any penetration. SCCA was running a mix of classes on the track so I did not want to get hit by a Corvette ( like I had seen at Watkins Glen). Since I am 5'11 ", 150 lb and size 9 shoes I can just fit. It is tight, but no worries about having a special seat to control lateral G force effects. Between the driveshaft tunnel and the side bars is very cozy.

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Bruce - my car is an S3 with a removable side impact bar. I think you saw my car at Canaan, NH this summer, and I had the bar on it then. It bolts onto the track-day rollbar and through the floorboards. I don't where what company made this bar. Here are some pictures from that day, showing the bar on the car:

IMG_8175.thumb.jpg.d486d448bc672015967ea2c15c42e7d2.jpgIMG_8184.thumb.jpg.9e893670dbb49aa791f8f468089a1900.jpgIMG_8172.thumb.jpg.39493244a63d2122ee2d4093bed29396.jpg

 

Edited by BlueBDA
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Thanks Jeff -  I took a couple photos of your car on that day and I forgot completely that you had a side impact bar!  If you get a chance would you mind taking a detail closeup of the mounting points?

IMG_2383 (1).jpg

IMG_2427-R1.jpg

IMG_20210619_132118695_HDR.jpg

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I want to point out that Caterham puts aluminum Honeycomb panels in the side of the car that do provide some side impact protection. I have a custom roll cage that isn't to difficult to remove. I am not aware of any cage or side bar configuration that allows the roof to go on. My cage bolts on like the regular roll bar in back. It bolts to the Caterham supplied points just in front of the rear tire, and has two cross members for the forward connections. The biggest issue with removing or installing it is it requires two people to lift it over the car. 

 

Cage.thumb.jpg.b4d63cf48a14b2b19846888a4eca4a12.jpg

 

290383801_Cage2.thumb.jpg.13ead46466adc47ee108f2df5390ea6d.jpg

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14 hours ago, Christopher smith said:

11Budlite---sorry about the photos-- I have a new phone and have just switched to an Apple computer as well and can not figure out how to get a photo to attach here. But happy to e-mail you some. I am at cgsseries123@gmail.com

 

Thanks @Christopher smith I sent you an email.

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CarlB-

Great looking cage! Thanks for sharing. I am only familiar with the early  Lotus varieties and they did not even have seat belt attachment points. Nice to see that Caterham had provisions for cage attachment. Do all the models have the rear and forward mounting points attached to the lower frame rail? I would guess without factory built in  tabs you would need to remove side and bottom panels to weld on attachment provisions.

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For track days I am not sure side impact is a big deal, racing is totally different. One group I run with has in 16 years only had one car on car incident. I have only seen one on a Parade lap session!!!!! That being said I do have a full cage with increased side impact protection on my Locost, but the side impact was not a big concern. 

 

Graham

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2 hours ago, Christopher smith said:

CarlB-

Great looking cage! Thanks for sharing. I am only familiar with the early  Lotus varieties and they did not even have seat belt attachment points. Nice to see that Caterham had provisions for cage attachment. Do all the models have the rear and forward mounting points attached to the lower frame rail? I would guess without factory built in  tabs you would need to remove side and bottom panels to weld on attachment provisions.

My car is a 1999 S-3. I can't speak for other years. If you look at the picture of the side of the cage / car you will see the rear attachment is different. This is what I assume is standard on Caterhams of my vintage, and I think I have seen on the metric cars as well. The two forward mounts are crossmembers that have been added. They are attached to the frame underneath the car. The cage tube fits down in a pocket and bolts in from the bottom. All the other connections are are where the normal roll bar mounts.

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I like that idea of an extra cross member. In fact I added one about an inch forward of the lower rear 1 inch square crossmember and the rear of my cage is on top of the 2 with a steel triangle welded in.  My floor pan is 304 stainless with really strong rivets making it all very stiff.Adds a bit of weight, but down low is not so bad and 7s are really quick in any case.

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Something else to consider perhaps is some kind of fire suppression - some people use fire safety sticks that are close to hand somewhere in the cockpit, which would be pretty cheap and easy to install (and remove), though I can't say how effective they are in a real emergency.

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