[200q20v] Re: [BIRA] 3pt Seatbelt harness

Ted Fisher fisherwc at pacbell.net
Tue Apr 24 23:23:15 EDT 2001

Ok guys, the issues raised about the belts (all the issues on all the
belts) are correct.

As a long time SCCA participant and instructor I have to agree that you
are all correct. But remember, we are talking about making our street
cars safer. A street car is a compromise while a race car is a single
purpose built vehicle.

The race car has lost all pretense of being usable on the street and
more importantly, being used by more than one person. I know, your
thinking "What about endurance racing?" Ok, usually in endurance racing
the team managers hope to have everyone close to the same size. There
are no adjustments on the seat, the steering column does not tilt or
slide in and out, and the seat belts do not automatically adjust to each

As an instructor I am climbing in and out of cars all day long. The
easiest ones to get comfortable in are those equipped with OEM seats and
belts. But they are not the most secure, oh no, a long way from it. Once
you set the belt they tend to give and move with you unless something
happens. In the meantime you have been sliding all over the seat,
fighting to stay in one place. When something does happen you hope you
are seated correctly and that the belt does not have any slack in it.

Almost as easy to adjust are the club belts, Schroth and the like. The
lap belts are designed to be adjusted quickly and will hold you very
securely in the seat. The shoulder belts can be quickly adjusted for
bigger or smaller riders/drivers by adjusting the rear belt, using the
shoulder belts themselves for final tightening. Adjusting these belts
usually can be done in a couple of minutes or less. They will keep you
planted in the seat during the most spirited driving exercises. As good
as they feel, you have to remember that they are designed to be easy to

A five or six point comp system is designed to hold you in the seat no
matter what happens. It is custom fit to the car and to the driver of
that car. The belts have a limited range of adjustment once installed.
The seat is bolted to the floor and to the roll bar or cage. The
shoulder belts are anchored to a bar that runs behind the seats just
below shoulder height (again, part of the roll bar or cage) and only
have a couple inches of play. Lap belts should be bolted to the floor
with support plates backing them up. Again your only talking an inch or
two of adjustment. The antisubmarine belt, and there are two kinds here,
keeps you from sliding under the lap belt in an accident. There is the
single belt design that comes from the floor and fastens to the lap belt
or the two piece belt that fastens on each side of the seat, comes
underneath the thighs and pulls up to attach at the waist. All in all, a
custom design that is sized for one person and one person only.

The club systems try to offer the secureness of a full competition
system while allowing some adaptability among different drivers. Yes,
they don't hold you as well as a comp system does, especially when you
blow it, but then again, we are not pushing the envelope quite that far.
They are a compromise, better than stock, not as good as race. Determine
your use, set your car up accordingly and go play.

Ted Fisher

PS. rule of thumb. Track the car once or twice in it's life, OEM will
work. Track the car a couple times a year, look for club belts. Planning
a trip every quarter, with one or two similar drivers, get a five point

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