Can a racing seat unlock more speed? Here are the results. | Project Toyota MR2 Turbo

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Update by J.G. Pasterjak to the Toyota MR2 Turbo project car
Sep 14, 2022 | Toyota, MR2, Harness, roll bar, Safety, kirkey, MR2 Turbo, Autopower

So, just before our MR2 burst into flames at Daytona, it was running well. Really well.

[How to react when your car catches fire | Project MR2 Turbo]

Aside from being our official test facility, the Florida International Rally and Motorsport Park also has their own in-house time trial series that runs a points championship every year.

Using a NASA-based classing structure, the series attracts both seasoned track rats and beginning TT competitors with its low-stress but competitive format.

And, seeing as how it’s close by and we’re familiar with the track, it’s also the perfect format to test our project cars in a more competitive environment.

With the recent adjustments to the NASA TT classing structure, our MR2 Turbo–which was putting around 225 horsepower to the ground with very mild boost settings–is a great fit in the TT5 class. With the Autopower roll bar installed, it sits around 3080 pounds with driver and fuel, and provides a nice old-school contrast to the Toyota 86s and E46 BMWs that make up the bulk of the class locally.

[Project Car: 2004 BMW M3]

For the TT event, we chose to run the Toyo Proxes RRsee our tire testing here–mostly because they were on the set of wheels that was on the car, it was hot, and we didn’t feel like changing them. It was a highly scientific decision.

The only other change to the car from the previous configuration was the addition of the Autopower roll bar, a five-point harness, and a Kirkey race seat. Toyota made some great seats in the ’80s and ’90s, but the capabilities of this car are improving to the point where even those great Toyota buckets are having a hard time holding us up in the corners.

Our result for the day was a narrow, second-place finish in TT5, the largest class of the event with nine cars lapping for glory. We were a little more than a second behind the BRZ of Neil Desai, holder of the track’s TT5 lap record, and just 0.012 clear of Scion FR-S driver Alwin Zapanta.

[Experts reveal how to make a first-gen BRZ faster]

Some great competition in a local event, but just as exciting was lowering our best time for this car at this facility by nearly half a second. That’s particularly impressive given the 90-plus-degree weather.

It's also impressive–although hardly surprising–that the only change from the previous configuration of the car was the additional driver support. Freeing the driver from holding themself upright in the car through proper seating and belting is a huge performance advantage as well as a safety improvement.

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eastsideTim UltimaDork
9/12/22 6:18 p.m.

Nice improvement!  Switching to a racing seat in my rallycross car helped a lot.  It's easier to concentrate on the course when you aren't trying to brace yourself in the seat at the same time.

John Prieve
John Prieve New Reader
9/13/22 1:27 p.m.

Kirkey has so many seats. Which seat did you use?

JG Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak Production/Art Director
9/14/22 10:10 a.m.
John Prieve said:

Kirkey has so many seats. Which seat did you use?

This one:

The reason it still looks like a work in progress is because it is. I'm kind of super picky about seats, so I usually spend several events with various tweaks to padding and expanding foam inserts and angle adjustments and they just look like butt for four months until I finally feel like I've nailed it, then I'll throw some fireproof cloth over top of it. 

burdickjp GRM+ Memberand Reader
9/15/22 12:29 p.m.

I have had a pair of Marrad TS2s which I had in an NA Miata and then an EA11R Cappuccino. I like how low the sides are, making getting in and out easier compared to other buckets. The cushions and upholstery is also super simple and easy to work with.
Construction on them looks rather complicated and involved, so I can see why Marrad stopped making them, but they're still amazing seats.

I'd like to keep them, but I think I need the money and space back, so they're currently for sale.

PMRacing GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
9/15/22 1:13 p.m.

We did a A to B To C test back in the day with CG-Lock.  Pro driver with CG-Lock first, then without, then with race seat.  With the CG-Lock, the driver was significantly faster in the stock seat than without, and only slightly faster in the race seat, hence the claim on the box of faster lap times or your money back. *No longer applicable since the company is no longer around.  

Being held in the car better really does help. When I'm at a HPDE driving a car without one, I feel like I'm falling out of the seat.  

engineered New Reader
9/15/22 3:21 p.m.

In reply to PMRacing :

In my E46 I would just move the seat back a bit, then push myself down into seat, yank the belt retractor to have it lock, then feed up the loose belt.  Then move the seat back into position and it was perfect.  Nice and tight, no moving around, no need to for a CG lock, which I did look into but decided it wouldn't be any more effective.

hunter47 Reader
9/15/22 4:42 p.m.

In reply to PMRacing :

This is promising - I have a Schroth Rallye 4 harness and have been wanting a bucket seat but if a pro-driver is negligibly faster in a bucket seat compared to just being bolted into the OEM seat, then I shouldn't waste my money on it. 

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