Sprint Car Safety
Safety. It is something that we all talk about, but unfortunately is something that is generally not quite to the top of a racers checklist. 2018 was a trying year for the sprint car community, with the tragic losses of both Jason Johnson, and most recently Greg Hodnett, neither of which were due to lack of driver safety features. However, just about every time I am at the racetrack I am able to pick out something that I am not comfortable with. I feel compelled to discuss some of the great safety features that we offer for our customers to take advantage of here at Speedway Motors. Let’s get started!
First off, let’s start with one of the biggest pieces of safety equipment, your seat. Your seat is your safety cocoon in the race car. There are many styles and brands available. For a sprint car application, we offer Butler Built EZ II Series Seats, As well as the Kirkey 89 Series Seat, both are cost friendly full containment seats. The Butler Built EZ series seat is designed around their Advantage line of seats, but made with less material and in standard sizing to reduce the price. This is an option for the weekend warrior or the professional racer to get in a full containment seat at a low price, we offer the Butler Built EZ II Seats in sizes ranging from 14.5” to 17.5” in size.
Kirkey also offers their 89 series seat, which is also a full containment sprint car seat. It is styled a little bit different with the same premise in mind. We offer the 89 series seat in sizes ranging from 14” to 17”. Additionally, Kirkey offers options for the micro sprint racer as well. We also offer Kirkey’s standard high back seat in sizes from 14” to 17”, however this is something I typically will not recommend due to the new standard for seats among most sanctioning bodies now days.
Seat belts are another critical item. When I am recommending a set of seat belts, I will typically recommend something with a ratcheting system, like the Hooker Harness, Crow, and Simpson belts. The ratcheting style belts, such as the links that are provided, will guarantee that you are tight in the race car with no chance of coming loose. The Hooker Harness brand is my personal favorite, and these three are my typical recommendations.
Other cockpit safety features include knee guards. J&J auto racing offers a couple different ones that are very nice, both for a Full Steering Sector, and for a Half Box Sector. These will save your knees in the event of a crash, rather than them beating themselves up on the steering sector. We also offer driveline safety items, like the Butler Built Torque Ball Shield, Butler Built Torque Tube Pad, Rear End Tether, and a Torque Tube Strap. For the most part, these are the safety features that will be seen in the cockpit of a sprint car. I highly recommend the usage of the Butler Built shield and the Butler Built torque tube pad at the very least, however if you can use all systems, that is preferred.
The rear end tether is used to keep the torque tube inside the torque ball in the event of a crash. Sometimes the rear suspension breaks apart from the rear end, and in that event the rear end has a chance to pull itself back far enough that the torque tube will come out of the torque ball. This is also why a longer style torque ball is preferred if possible, Winters makes a Torque Ball for use with their housings and torque tubes. The torque tube strap is also a nice piece in the essence that if the torque tube does become separated from the motor plate, the strap will keep it centered in the car.
We will now look outside the cockpit at some of the safety items that we offer. For the most part, this stuff is pretty much mandated across the board, such as the Drag Link Tether. This strap is mandated across the board in almost all sprint car series at this point. Another subject that I would like to touch on is the front end tethers. The World of Outlaws has updated their rules policy to where you can no longer run a bolt to bolt front axle tether, and the tether much be a clamp on axle style. This means that the Amick tethers that we currently offer will no longer be World of Outlaws legal in 2019. It would not be surprising to see other sanctioning bodies follow suit with this rule change as well, so before buying your axle tethers for the 2019 season, be sure to check your series or track rule book or consult with your series director.
With tethers, as far as I am concerned one is no good without the use of the other. What I mean by that is, the front axle tethers are no good if you are not also using the kingpin tether. If you are not using the kingpin tether, the axle could break in the middle and the tether will keep that half on the car potentially causing more damage to the car by having it swinging around, especially in the engine area.
Vice versa, if you use the kingpin tether but not the axle tether, the kingpin tether will hold the assembly together but the axle can still fly out of the car. I recommend the use of both the Butler Built Axle Tether, and the Butler Built Kingpin Tether. We also do offer the Amick Tether, however, starting in 2019 this axle tether will no longer be legal for use in World of Outlaw competition. Double check your rule books before ordering to be sure your sanction or track did not follow suit.
Of course, as with anything safety, people will still think of ways to make things even safer yet. This is the best of the best that we have to offer as of right now as far as car safety goes. We want to make sure that you have what you need to remain safe in your race car!
Products Featured in this Article
Speedway Motors Sprint Car Front Axle Tether Kit, PairView$293.99Compare
J&J Auto Racing 101038F Full Knee Pad ProtectorView$94.99Compare
J&J Auto Racing 101038 Knee Protector for Half BoxView$74.99Compare
Butlerbuilt BBP-4800 Torque Ball Shield, Sprint RacingView$270.77Compare