Bob Stroud on Racing Seat Belts and Window Nets
A Racer's Q & A with Bob Stroud of Stroud Safety
Why are there different types of shoulder straps offered and how do you know which design to get?
There are several different types of restraint designs because there are numerous types of car/cage designs. There is not one type car/cage built. The best way to determine which design is right for your combination is to call the manufacturer of the restraints and give him the details he asks for. If your restraint supplier does not what you are talking about, find another supplier. It's your butt on the line, not his. He is just trying to make money, not get you the right product. Most of the restraint manufacturers are very competent, but some are not. Watch out...
What's the story behind the NHRA cancellation of the Y belt design?
The Y design shoulder assembly was eliminated from SFI approval as it was deemed to be a very weak unit. I agree with this. It was also a very uncomfortable design, which has nothing to do with safety. There were reports of the Y belt coming apart in a wreck, although I cannot confirm this. Drag racing was the last sport to outlaw the Y design. Everybody (NASCAR, USAC, SCCA, Indy Car CART, etc.) had outlawed them many years ago. This was a good call on everyone's part. Y types are now expired and are no longer legal.
Submarine or Crotch Straps, what's the difference between the single or the dual submarine straps?
The single vs. dual crotch straps are in most cases a matter of choice. I like the dual straps better because it fits around the legs better, but some cars do not have the room to use duals. I see a day when the duals will be the only permitted crotch design allowed, as they do have more surface area to absorb shock. There is also the fact that some of the laydown cars need more crotch support due to the driver position. In this case the dual is obviously better.
For belt anchor points on a stock floor pan car, do you suggest using the OEM attachment points for the lap belts if they are in the correct position?
I am a restraint manufacturer, not a chassis designer/builder, so I am going to plead ignorance on this subject. I suggest that you call one of the better chassis builders to ask this question, as I do not want to give out wrong info and get someone hurt. You might try one of the St. Louis boys.
Kam lock Vs Latch and Link which is better and why? Which one is better for getting out quickly when upside down?
I like the kam design better. The latch and link system (L&L) is a good design that was designed by Americans in the 1920's for aircraft. It is a good design and very durable. It also is a royal pain to use, as you have to get all the straps in the same place at the same time before you can latch it. By the way, the USA is the only place that uses the L&L belts. Europe does not have anything like it (Not Invented there!). The kam design is much easier to use in that you can fasten one belt at a time by yourself. Much easier. Both belts meet the same SFI requirements very well. There are some places that I will not use a kam. If you are in any type of dirt racing, NEVER use a kam, as they can get debris inside of them and jam. The kam is a bit easier to release in most conditions, but they both work well.
I've heard some drivers pull their belts as tight as they can get them, is this a good practice? Why? Would you please explain the proper buckling and adjustment techniques?
Always wear your belts as tight as you can. The nylon in the belts has enough stretch to give you plenty of deceleration in a crash. NEVER WEAR YOUR BELTS LOOSE!
There are no particular special way to adjust your belts, however, always tighten the lap belts first. The crotch should be be tightened while the car is in the shop to make it a one time adjustment.
We've seen some cars with stock seats have the belts installed by just looping over the top of a seat and anchoring right behind the seat on the floor (instead of to the roll bar). What kind of result would this driver see in a wreck?
Probably death. If you are using stock seats, you have a street car. We do not make restraints for street cars. A real race car has a racing seat and a cage. Racing restraints require this arrangement. Anything else is dangerous and should not be done. As far as the stock seats go, they allow too much movement to do well in a crash.
What is the reason that SFI requires belts to expire every 2 years? Does one color stand up better than others to UV? Are recerts really necessary or is it overkill?
The general public sees it as overkill since our daily drivers go for years with the same belts. I think that the general public is in some cases being misled. We have the factory test results on the webbing and so do the car manufacturers, so I assume that they feel it is cheaper to play the odds that nothing bad happens than to fix the problem in the first place. Makes you wonder.
Restraints are made from either nylon (most) or polyester (some) Both materials are susceptible to Ultra Violet light damage. After exposure to UV light, both materials begin to weaken and loose strength. The color of the webbing doesn't matter. If you don't believe me, take a look at some of the open cars. Look at the shoulder harnesses and compare the outside color with the color on the underneath side of the webbing. If it is faded, it is damaged. After looking at DuPonts test results on Nylon 66, there was a noticeable drop in strength after ONE WEEK!
We at Stroud reweb our belts every year because of that reason. Also, all manufacturers that choose to recertify their belts (we do) must replace all the webbing. We cannot simply put on new tags.
What is your opinion on seats for Drag Racing? Which is best Aluminum or Plastic?
Aluminum is better, but you need to contact Ultrashield and talk to Robert Bass about seats. While he is ugly, he is also the best seat manufacturer there is (800-832-7292) Tell him Handsome Bob told you to call.
Are the aluminum seats lighter than plastic?
Window Nets - How far from the window should these be installed? What problems can occur in a wreck with these?
The nets need to be mounted on the INSIDE of the rollcage so that they are not drug off in a crash. The forward edge of the net needs to be within 2 inches of the bottom of the steering wheel and right next to the front hoop of the cage by the driver. It can be no less than 10" wide at its narrowest by SFI specs.
SFI specs cover window nets themselves, but not the attachments. This has been discussed by the net manufacturers for quite a while. Apparently, you could use duct tape and zip ties to mount your net and it would be OK. We have seen mountings that make you wonder. There are several ways to PROPERLY mount a net, and most of the net manufacturers will discuss this with you. And yes, some designs are better for certain applications. Visit with the net builder. Always remember, it is easier to make the net fit the car than it is to make the car fit the net.
How long are window nets good for?
Nets are good for 2 years, just like restraints and for the exact same reasons.
Thanks Bob for taking the time to answer these questions in detail! If you have any questions or need belts, window nets, parachutes or other safety equipment give Stroud Safety a call at 1-800-554-4648 or on the web at http://www.stroudsafety.com