A better design would have...
A better design would have the framerail built with lots of bends with high angles at the joints. This provides a lot of bending possibilities making for a softer crush zone which will dissipate energy and reduce the g-spike we see in hard impacts with the concrete walls. BOB BOLLES
Remember to plate the underside of the seat along with welding bars in the windshield area to keep out flying objects of a larger size. Seal the firewall and interior sheetmetal seams that are needed to keep out dirt, exhaust gases, and flames. Inspect them often.
Padding All exposed tubing, the steering column, and other hard equipment inside the cockpit must be padded with dense cell padding material intended for race car use. Foam-type padding is usually not stiff enough to dissipate the energy of a flying arm or leg. The stiffer material may seem a bit hard to the touch, but when hit hard, will absorb the energy without collapsing, or squashing down to the bare metal.
It's a similar concept as helmet foam. That medium is hard to the touch, but conforms to the shape of the head on impact and absorbs much of the energy. Attach padding to all of the exposed rollbar tubing within reach of the driver's arms and legs. An especially neglected area is between the legs, along the steering column. The mount, bolt ends, and shaft all can cause serious bruising or fractures of the bones if not adequately padded.
There are pads now available for the door bars, seat sides and back, head restraints, and steering wheel center post. The more padding you can use, the safer you will be and the more comfortable, too, when utilizing seat and leg padding.
This car has plating along...
This car has plating along the side of the driver's compartment outside the 'cage. This, along with more plating beside the foot box, helps prevent objects from intruding into the driver's compartment. We need not forget to plate under the driver's seat for added protection. BOB BOLLES
Seats and Accessories The racing seat along with the seatbelts, arm restraints, netting, and head and neck restraints are the primary line of defense against personal injury or death in a race car. Aside from fire protection, your first thought and concern should be to install a quality seat that fits your body perfectly. Then fit seatbelts that will hold you in the seat properly, along with netting that will contain your extremities.
Generic seats are cheap and I understand racing budgets. If you can't afford a custom seat built to your body's dimensions, then at least buy a size that fits snug. You can also add foam padding specifically designed for seats so that you can't move around in the seat.
When I raced karts, my seat was shaped so that I had to turn my hips to enter the seat and then the hips were locked in tight when I was fully in. This provided a lot of support and reduced the movement from the 3-plus g's we experienced while road racing. I would be bruised along the sides of my hips and legs from the side force, but never felt like I was not firmly in the seat. As you go through the turns, the lateral loads must be contained by the seat against the body, and with some seat designs, the shoulders.
Many companies offer padding...
Many companies offer padding for covering the side bars next to the seat. Hard side impacts force the arms into the bars. Many seats have extensions that protect the legs from side impacts too. Donft forget to pad that steering column while youfre at it. BOB BOLLES
There's a proper way to mount the seatbelts, and every manufacturer has specific instructions on how to do that. Read and follow the instructions. If you're the driver, do a visual inspection of the installation before you get in the car and drive it. The nets should be tight, with no slack in either the vertical or horizontal direction. Memorize where the release levers or cords are located to release the nets.
Fire Control The danger of fire in stock cars has been greatly reduced, but not entirely eliminated. With the introduction of fuel cells, fire suppression systems (fire extinguishers), firesuits, and fireproof materials, the risk of getting burned is much less than ever before. The level of protection though is up to the driver.
There are different levels of firesuit protection available with escalating cost as the level increases. Opt for the best system you can afford, relative to the risk you're willing to accept. That is, imagine the worst case scenario and design your system so that you'll survive. Make regular inspections of the fire control system a part of the maintenance schedule and put it on a checklist. I see teams overlook this item a lot.
SprintCars are now using seats...
SprintCars are now using seats designed to limit head movement to the sides. Rollovers can be very violent and we have seen film footage of a driver's head being whipped side to side in a Sprint Car. These seats are a vast improvement. BOB BOLLES
Another accessory is the net...
Another accessory is the net that prevents the arms from being thrown outside the immediate area behind the steering wheel. The window net on the left and the rollcage net to the right of the driver are becoming more and more common. Grand Am Racing now requires these to be installed in the Daytona Prototypes since Scott Pruett had his enormous crash last year that cut his car in half.
I still see drivers racing...
I still see drivers racing without gloves. In the event of a fire, you'll be touching very hot metal as you disconnect your seatbelts, unlatch your window net, and grab the rollcage to pull yourself out of the seat. Put a piece of metal tubing in a fire for a while and then remove it with your bare hands (just an idea, don't really try this). What you imagine is what it will feel like if you're in a fire and try to exit without gloves. It only has to happen once to ruin your hands forever. BOB BOLLES