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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Stock Car Racing Seat Installation

Racing Seat Installation can be a fairly simple process, as long as the installer possesses the skills and equipment necessary. If you have any doubts regarding the installation of a racing seat, take your seat and car to a reputable fabricator and have them do the work. Remember, if the seat mounts fail during a racing impact, the results could be catastrophic.

The different disciplines of auto racing all have their own unique ways of mounting the racing seat. Due to the volume and severity of crashes in Oval track racing, their methods are typically the strongest, but may be difficult to apply to Road Race or Drag Race applications.

The first step for mounting a racing seat is, obviously, it's location. With the seat and driver in the car, determine the height from the floorboard, distance back from steering wheel and pedals, incline (around 10 degree to 20 degree) and the centering location. Some racers will even skew their seat from level or square depending on the type of racing (dirt or asphalt).

Circle Track racers have traditionally mounted the seat to the roll cage structure in some fashion. Street stock type race cars will have a "hoop" that runs along the floor boards and attaches to the door bar structure and the main cage. The theory is if there is an extreme driver's door impact, the seat will move with the door bar structure, possibly preventing the cage from collapsing into the driver. Pre-fabricated seat "hoops" are available for purchase or they can be quickly fabricated with the proper shop tools. The floor board "hoop" will provide a bolting surface for the bottom of the race seat. The next attachment should be the seat back, at approximately shoulder blade height. This attachment is connected to the horizontal bar that supports the main roll cage hoop. Many racers are now using a third attachment point on the lower back section of the seat for even more precaution.

Factory or shop built "jig" racing chassis should have all the seat mounts built into the structure. Although, it is not uncommon to have to slightly modify to suit a certain seat installation. Typically, this involves extending or shortening the mount lengths. Make sure the fabrication and welding skills of the person performing the modifications are top notch, as the drivers safety is at stake. If your chassis builder is local, they will be very familiar with the proper techniques and positioning of your racing seat.

Never, bolt any circle track race seat directly to the floorboards. The metal on the floorboards is not thick enough to properly sustain the g-forces applied in an accident. Street stock type race cars can be 20 to 40 years old and the floorboard structure can be even weaker than when factory new.

All attachment points of the racing seat should use a minimum of 2 (3 or 4 is better) bolts. So that means, at absolute minimum, there should be 2 bolts on the seat bottom and 2 bolts on the seat back. Fabricators who care about their customers, will use Grade 8 bolts and nuts to complete the connection. Verify that some sort of locking hardware or thread compound is used to prevent the nuts from loosening. Make sure to check the bolt tightness before every race. Use wide, thick washers to back up the bolt and prevent the hardware from pulling through the aluminum race seat during impact. 

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