Rollover Safety

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic it looks as if we’re not going to be able to go racing for the next few months.  I’d like to suggest looking into roll over safety on your race cars while we wait (and hope!) for our season to resume.  We had a conference call today with the Chief Steward, the Chief Technical Inspector, the Group Representatives and me.  Everyone was in agreement with the initiative to look into enforcing roll bar and roll cage safety for all the race cars in our club.

The standard for roll bar height and construction is from the 1972 SCCA GCR (General Competition Rules) which states that the roll bar should be not less than 2” above the driver’s helmet on a level plane.  The issue is pretty clear.  Your head shouldn’t be the first thing to hit the pavement if your car goes over! 

Production cars should conform to those same SCCA GCR guidelines.  The GCR appendixes Y and Z contain information needed for roll cages and restraints.  Car weight determines the tubing OD, thickness and material that should be used.  Please check your roll cage to ensure it is in conformance.  If you’re not sure, please contact your Group Rep.

In the event of a rollover a couple of things are going to happen:

  1. Your neck and shoulders are going to stretch
  2. Your seat belts are designed to stretch and they will (even though you may have pulled them tight)

So, even if your helmet is below the top of the bar when you’re in the car, it may not stay that way in the event of an accident.  Please take a look at the attached photos of Mac Wolff’s Lynx with him in the car and the helmet after he went upside down at Blackhawk Farms last year. 

Mac Wolff in his Lynx
Helmet after the rollover

Even though his helmet, as you can see in the photo, was well below the top of the roll bar, you can see the helmet hit the pavement at least three times in the course of the accident.  He was very lucky in that the roll bar held up (although it did grind away some on the pavement) and he had no aftereffects from the accident.  I’ve attached a YouTube link of the incident which begins around 4:30 in the video.

So, PLEASE take a look at the roll bar height and bracing in your cars and if you think it may be less than adequate, get it fixed.  In some cases addressing the problem may be as simple as removing a seat cushion or padding in order to just get lower in the car.  If you think the roll bar needs to be replaced or upgraded, many of the race shops aren’t very busy now and they might be able to get work like this done before the season restarts.

Going forward, we are going to start enforcing these rules, beginning at our next race, in a couple of ways including measurement on the false grid before a track session and observation while the vehicle is on track.

by William Wolff