Have you thought about your roll bar padding lately?

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Tim
Update by Tim Suddard to the Ford Mustang Fastback project car
Jan 4, 2024 | Ford, Mustang, I/O Port Racing

To complete our Mustang’s safety gear, we would need to install roll bar padding. This padding has come a long way since we installed what essentially seemed like pool float noodles decades ago.

We obtained modern Longacre roll bar padding from I/O Port Racing. It feels hard yet gives away under impact. The padding comes in two sizes (regular and Mini).

First,” notes Ken Myers, owner of I/O Port Racing, “pad any bar that your head, arms or legs would hit and then at least 6 inches further as harnesses stretch and the body deforms, and the components of the car may move closer as the car crashes and absorbs energy–i.e., the cage crushes and/or the seat mounts bend or the floor that the seat is mounted to bends.”

From that advice, we had list of bars to pad:

  • Bar at top of door
  • Bar at top of windshield
  • Diagonal bar at roof
  • Under-dash bar
  • Upper door bar
  • Vertical bar that connects to both the door bar and under-dash bar
  • A-pillar bar

I would use half-round padding in most places, like along the head or on the door bars,” he continues. “I would use Mini padding on places that can only be hit from one angle and that you need to see past like the A-pillar bar. Attach roll bar padding with both the double-sided tape it comes with and cable ties to keep the padding in place while the tape sets up.”

Cutting the padding to the correct length is easily done but, since it’s foam and will melt, avoid using heat. We found that a standard, handheld hacksaw easily cuts the foam padding.

For longevity and esthetics, you want to place the cut ends away from view–so, for example, against the next tube when mating a vertical to a horizontal surface. For maximum safety, in a corner, you should angle cut the corners so the entire bar is covered. You can also carefully use a bench grinder to make minor adjustments.

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Comments
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/4/24 10:12 a.m.

Yes I have.  I just ordered padding and a leather cover from Bethanis garage for this Black Friday purchase.

BA5
BA5 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
1/4/24 10:37 a.m.

Looks like it already came fully padded! :D

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
1/4/24 11:11 a.m.

I feel it's important to mention that padding is still designed for a helmeted head, not your bare noggin'. For those that drive cars with a roll bar on the street. 

I didn't worry about it too much in my NA since I had a fixed-back seat that meant if it moved enough for my head to hit the bar, I was probably already doneski anyway. 

Duke
Duke MegaDork
1/4/24 11:23 a.m.
z31maniac said:

I feel it's important to mention that padding is still designed for a helmeted head, not your bare noggin'. For those that drive cars with a roll bar on the street. 

I didn't worry about it too much in my NA since I had a fixed-back seat that meant if it moved enough for my head to hit the bar, I was probably already doneski anyway. 

Yeah, that's the case in the Manic Miata.  Technically it's a bad idea, but realistically the only way I'll ever contact the bar is if there is significant structural damage to my spine.

 

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/4/24 11:57 a.m.
z31maniac said:

I feel it's important to mention that padding is still designed for a helmeted head, not your bare noggin'. For those that drive cars with a roll bar on the street. 

I didn't worry about it too much in my NA since I had a fixed-back seat that meant if it moved enough for my head to hit the bar, I was probably already doneski anyway. 

Agree but head ~> padding ~> bar is still preferable to head ~> bar.  Yes head ~> helmet ~> padding ~> bar is the best.  
 

I've seen a lot of Miata's that figured head ~> bar was okay too.  
 

I'm sufficiently vertically challenged it's not a huge issue for me personally.  

TR7
TR7 Reader
1/4/24 1:07 p.m.

They make dual density padding that while not really a solution, should help. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/4/24 1:23 p.m.

I used dual density padding in the caged Targa Miata. We'd pop the top layer on for transit sections and remove it for timed stages where we were wearing helmets.

The formed Hard Dog padding with the leather cover is really nice. It's shaped to fit the leading edge of the bar and doesn't get in the way of the top.

APEowner
APEowner GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
1/4/24 1:24 p.m.

I actually was thinking about my roll bar padding recently.  I ran across the photo below of me sitting on the fender of  my first race car and thought "Wow! I can't believe I thought that roll bar padding was a good idea and that it passed tech!"  Of course, I learned to weld by building that cage and at the time I thought the hair and the cheesy mustache were good ideas as well so clearly my judgment was lacking in a number of areas.

 

I'm about to show my bias for street cars being on the street and track cars being on the track.  My opinion is that if there's any chance for your bare head to hit a roll bar or cage, padded or not, then it shouldn't be in your street car.  If that limits the things you feel safe doing on the track in said car, so be it.

Any way you look at risk, exposing a head to a roll bar in a traffic accident is a problem.  Likelihood, severity, preventability... all are a problem.  Rear end accidents happen hundreds of times every day.  The consequences of your head hitting a bar in such an accident are extreme.  And you can do absolutely nothing to prevent it from happening.

Obviously this is irrelevant if you can install the bar in a way that the seat protects your head from it.

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 PowerDork
1/4/24 1:35 p.m.

Yes, Champcar requires us to run rollbar padding that could quite possibly be harder than the actually steel used for the roll bar. 

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