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Blown96Snake
12-11-2003, 09:47 PM
Hey guys,

I just found some disturbing news on the spec miata board. You can check it out if you want:

http://www.specmiata.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=000770

I have never heard of a fiberglass seat breaking?

Do you guys think that the seat brace was part of the problem?
In my mind, it would seem that the seat back brace would cause binding upon impact. Also, why would you use a seat back brace on a seat (fia rated) that is not intended to use a seat brace?

Has anyone ever heard of this happeneing? THanks

Dave

98banana
12-12-2003, 07:32 AM
Hey Dave,

Here's what I know about the seats and seat back braces:

I had the Corbeau Pro Sport (I think, ask Lisa.) They were rated FIA 8855-1999 (IIRC) which means that they did NOT need a seat back brace. The FIA 8855-1995 (again, IIRC) DOES require a brace. Don't take my word for those exact ratings, but I think that's right. And that's also according to NASA, other sanctioning bodies may have different rules.

All that being said, MY OPINION is that the seat back brace will help in some situations and hurt in others. It's one of those things like building a cage: if you knew how you were going to crash, you could build the car in such a way to protect the most IN THAT SITUATION. Unfortunately, we don't have that luxury.

If I were to go with a fiberglass (or carbon fiber/kevlar like the Corbeau) and the FIA rating required a brace, then I would put a brace in to avoid major break. But, it sounds like the guy on the Miata board did just that and it may have caused more problem.

In my car that I hope to start building soon, I was planning on using a Kirkey Road Race seat, but Shugg pointed me to the Butler Built (http://www.butlerbuilt.net) company. I am impressed both by the quality and the things I've read about it on some of the boards. I'm going to do a little more research, but my current choice is this one (http://www.butlerbuilt.net/roadraceadvantage.html).

Also, when I mount the seat, it will not touch any part of the body of the car. The seat will be suspended in the cage with full back support.

justagt
12-12-2003, 09:33 AM
Ah, yes, the famed to-brace-or-not-to-brace question. Like Tom said, this topic and the answers you get are very opinionated. For example, Shugg and I have very different thoughts on back braces, but we are both very safety concious.

IMHO, a lot of what decides whether you need a BB or not depends on the seat itself. I personally use the Kirkey seat that Tom mentioned. It has the side bolsters, I added head braces,and it is good and snug. In fact, it seems to get even more snug as the holidays go on. More importantly , it is a seat that I feel very safe and secure in. I do use a back brace because it comes highly recommended by Kirkey and NASA. I also like the idea of having a back brace. But then you get into the argument of the driver getting more of the impact because the seat didn't absorb any of the hit.

Some say the a fiberglass seat or one without a back brace will absorb some of the impact more by flexing a little and making it easier on the driver. I personally cringe at the thought of my seat moving, even the slightest, in a crash. The main scenario I think about is backing into a wall, i.e. when we race at Lowe's, and the seat flexing back and, for example, allowing the shoulder harnesses to loosen.

Butler Built makes AWESOME stuff. My seat you can buy anywhere, but BB is in Concord and will custom fit a seat to you, it you have the money. Which I don't and that is another post all together. :D

Let me also say that I grew up around and watching racing, mainly nascrap, that used the aluminum seats, so I admit that played a little into my decision of seat style.

Hopefully, Bryan will chime in and give you the no BB arguement. he has experienced a wreck in one and can offer some suggestions. Just don't get a haircut like his.

98banana
12-12-2003, 10:27 AM
I want to hear Bryan's response and position on this too.

Even though I am in agreement with a brace for certain seats, when I hit the wall (side impact), the only thing I felt was the harnesses. I had bruised legs from the belts. I really couldn't tell you if the seats flexed a lot, or none at all. I would probably think that if I had a back brace, I may have felt the sides of the seats more and possibly had bruising elsewhere.

Back braces would be the easiest thing in the world to decide on if we could only see in the future.

svt_coupe
12-12-2003, 11:46 AM
In a meeting... more to follow.

:D

svt_coupe
12-12-2003, 06:40 PM
OK. I want to put a disclaimer on this. I am NOT an expert in this stuff. I know about as much as the next average Joe racer. But I have talked to a lot of people on this issue - a lot of people I trust implicitly. Also, this is my opinion. Read this as such (my opinion) from here on out. I don't like responding to safety issues publicly anymore for fear that someone will take what I have said and go out and get hurt. But alas... here I go...

I briefly read the post on the Miata board. I noticed where the guy had a seat back brace attached to a fiberglass seat. As Tom stated, if the seat has a -1999 FIA rating, you are not supposed to mount a seat back brace to it. They are not designed to work with a seat back brace. I'm not sure if the guy on the Miata board had a non "1999" rated seat or not, but if he did, I don't think he should have had a seat back brace. But, I didn't build his seat, the seat mount, or his car so I won't even try to suppose that I'm right and he was wrong by having a seat back brace.

I feel some flex is good. In particular if I back the car into a wall. I do not want the energy of a crash being transmitted into my back by a seat back brace. At least in a cheaper aluminum seat...

Will, you ain't gonna like this... but here goes. Most aluminum seats are NOT the same thing as a Butler seat. The Butler seats are incredibly well built and engineered. After I swore up and down about how I didn't like aluminum seats (including the Butler), I was asked to take a much closer look at the Butlers. They are BEEFY. I would put a Butler in my car any day of the week. The Butler seats don't scare me like some of the other aluminum seats do. The design of some aluminum seats are a recipe for broken ribs (again, opinion here...). For instance, the type that have rib supports but no shoulder supports. From what I've been told, next to your sternum (hips), your shoulders are the strongest part of the body. They can withstand more of an impact than your ribs can. Also, some of the aluminum seats I've seen look like they would fold around the seat back brace with sufficient force. NOT the Butlers though.

Remember the fiberglass seats with the "wings" that came up near the driver's head? You used to see them in touring cars not too long ago? I was told that these are b-a-d, bad. I guess the idea of these wings is to prevent your head/neck from "whip-lashing" to the side during a heavy side impact (this is what killed that ASC driver at Buttonwillow in October). Apparently they worked, but would bend with the impact, then spring your head back in the opposite direction too fast, causing injury (or worse) from the reverse "whip-lash," if you will. The body would be traveling in one direction, as the head springs back in the opposite. Thus, you don't see many of those seats anymore.

However, the Butler's wings don't give as much during an impact as the fiberglass seats do. They fit snugly around the head and the body, allowing the head and body to move as a unit. The foam around the drivers helmet gives on impact, but does not rapidly "spring" the head in the opposite direction after the head hits the wings. I'm sure there is an amount of recoil, but your body and neck aren't moving very far, so you don't get the basilar skull fracture. The wings sole purpose is to prevent this in a side impact.

Which brings up a good point. Everyone here knows how much I LOVE my Isaac head and neck restraint (www.isaacdirect.com). I will never race without one again. But, there is currently no statistical data that I know of that says any head and neck restraint device (even the Isaac that I use) prevents basilar skull fractures in a side impact. They primarily are designed for frontal impact. In a rearward impact, the head and body move together, hitting the back of the seat and head rest (the one built into the seat) preventing whip-lash. Fortunately, Gregg Baker at Isaac has told me that they will be conducting some side impact tests to see the effectiveness of their product in this situation. I'm looking forward to the results, as the Isaac does offer some lateral support in hard corners. It's nice...

I'm not really all that excited about posting this. I'm sure if an expert walked into this thread, they'd find countless errors in my statements (I invite all to pick it apart). BUT, if you are racing, please do yourselves a favor - just buy the best safety equipment you can afford. Do the research and choose what's best for you. Unfortunately, there is no foolproof way to ensure your absolute safety in racing. You can only take the steps to make your car as foolproof as possible.

98banana
12-12-2003, 10:16 PM
Bryan, I understand what you're saying about not wanting to give safety advice for fear of somebody using the advice and it turning bad. However, think of the alternative of not giving ANY advice. Where would they be then? I think all of us covered the fact that we are not experts and this is our opinions. I think all of this should be taken as a small portion of the research required to make a good decision.

Once that is understood, I think it is our duty to give our views especially you and I because we are in the select club of those that have had to use the safety equipment. I know you're big on safety and I can, without a doubt, guarantee you that I am as serious as you are. I was serious about it before and that's why I walked away from that wall at Road Atlanta. Now, you better believe that the extra price of the butler seat is worth every penny.

I'm probably going to be the laughing stock in AI because I'll be the one with the TIG welded cage that borders on being a jungle gym, a Butler Built custom fit seat, halon fire suppression system, head restraint AND, GUESS WHAT ELSE, A STOCK SUSPENSION!!! I think you see where my priorities are.

SIUNARA
12-12-2003, 11:43 PM
Tom keeps talking about leaving his suspension stock on his new race car...what he isn't telling us is that it's probably a Viper!! ;)

Shugg, I think you covered yourself by stating that what you're posting is your opinion. My opinion is that this club and the people that read this board are better served by reading your (and everyone else's) posts about safety. It's a very serious issue. Thanks for contributing to those of us that are not as knowledgeable about safety. :thumbsup:

Blown96Snake
12-13-2003, 10:16 AM
Thanks for all the replies. I think the more opinions and ideas about safety we have, the better. Some of us have more experience than others and your knowledge, opinions are appreciated.

I was trying to think of an unbiased safety organization for racing and I couldn't come up with one. Does anyone know of one? It stinks because if you call Kirkey, they are going to tell you their stuff is the safest and if you call Sparco, they are going to say the same. There is no single unbiased safety committee or body.

I have been looking at something like the Ultrashield Road Race seat, which is made of .125 thick, grade 5052 alum. w/ high density foam and the Momo Start. The Momo is the lowest priced fiberglass seat, but is also the only one that fits inside the stinkin' tiny miatas.

Anyway, it looks like I am still doing research, thanks for the replies. Have a good weekend.

Dave

spittincobra01
12-13-2003, 01:51 PM
ok stupid question.... how do I find out what rating my seats are? I can't seem to find the paperwork that came with them.

98banana
12-13-2003, 01:58 PM
Originally posted by spittincobra01
ok stupid question.... how do I find out what rating my seats are? I can't seem to find the paperwork that came with them.

I think, and I could be wrong, that there should be an FIA label on the seat. I think I read somewhere that all FIA approved seats MUST have a label stating that. I could be way off on this though.

Tom

svt_coupe
12-13-2003, 02:11 PM
Well glad to hear that you guys think my opionion is warranted... or something like that. I see your point, Tom, about contributing some info rather than nothing at all.

Dave - the guy that built my cage (Walt Puckett) just put a Momo into a friend of ours car. I'm not sure of the model, but I know he originally wanted to put an OMP Grip (same seat I use) into it. The Momo is a great seat. Adam Richman has one in his ITA CRX. I'll tell him to come over here and contribute to this thread. Anyhow... the point of it is this - the Momo is a great seat. These guys wouldn't be putting it in their cars if it weren't.

I agree with you and your frustrations. It seems there is no single point of information that is reliable. All you can do is read, ask questions, and never stop doing so. Racecar fabrication is a pretty tricky thing. Who would have thought you had to be a doctor to do it correctly? :D

spittincobra01
12-13-2003, 03:41 PM
where would that label be Tom?

98banana
12-13-2003, 03:48 PM
Originally posted by spittincobra01
where would that label be Tom?

On my seats it was on the sides towards the back about at rib level. It may be different on other seats.

You may want to call the manufacturer to see if they can tell you if it's FIA tested or not.

spittincobra01
12-14-2003, 01:15 AM
ok, thanks Tom:thumbsup:

Blown96Snake
12-14-2003, 02:45 PM
Spittin', if all else fails, look up your model on the mfr's website and see if it is FIA rated. FIA rated seats usually say so...

Later

johnbasf
12-14-2003, 03:27 PM
Originally posted by 98banana
On my seats it was on the sides towards the back about at rib level. It may be different on other seats.

You may want to call the manufacturer to see if they can tell you if it's FIA tested or not.

Same place for my OMP seats.

Blown96Snake
12-14-2003, 03:47 PM
John-What seat are you using now? I thought I saw that you were selling your OMPs.

Later

Dave

johnbasf
12-14-2003, 05:37 PM
I'm using the OMP Extra seat. I'm selling one of them.

justagt
12-15-2003, 08:46 AM
Bryan, no worries at all, man, that is why we have the talks about this stuff that we do. Even with all the info, I still tend to be partial to an aluminum seat over the fiberglass seat. What I meant about the Kirkeys being similar was the basic design, i.e. hip and rip supports.

I will be the first to say that the Butler seats are awesome and the guys are super nice and will make it to fit you perfectly. Plus, the way they reinforce them is incredible. The kirkey that I use now does have shoulder braces that can be added, which I am thinking about, but I am curious as to how much they would restrict arm movement. After reading all of this and looking at Tom's link, I am REALLY thinking about how to go to Butler and have them make me my own personal cocoon.