…back a couple weeks ago, I ordered a new racing seat for the Cobra. My credit card was charged. And last night, I paid the credit card bill.

But I don’t have my seat yet.

Next weekend, I’m supposed to be gong to a test & tune, and I’d like to run the new seat. But I may be spending a little time *installing* the seat the way things are looking right now. This makes me sad.

Then again, I could call the shop tomorrow morning and find that it’s somehow miraculously arrived late this afternoon or this evening, and run down there tomorrow (with car literally in tow) to get it installed.

Okay, Jim, you’re asking, why do you need a new seat anyway?

Glad you asked. There are several reasons: 1) My old/current seat is worn out — I’ve had it since 2000 and its original owner bought it in 1996 — and the backrest won’t stay in place anymore without help (it wants to recline). 2) My current seat is way heavy. 3) It sits way too high — my helmeted head is hard into the roof of the car. This wasn’t too much of a problem until I got a new Snell SA2005 helmet in ’06, which is taller than my previous Snell SA1995 helmet due to more cushioning required to meet the 2005 standards. But now, it’s a major issue. 4) Nail in coffin: It’s no longer legal. The backrest isn’t high enough to meet the new seat rules we (and I say “we” because I am on the committee that changed the rule) implemented for this year in the interest of increased safety.

The new seat is FIA homologated, a one-piece non-reclining seat that’s also HANS-device compatible. For those of you wondering about *that*, the HANS is a Head And Neck Support system, and if Dale Earnhardt, Kenny Irwin, Adam Petty, and a few other drivers had been wearing one when they had their fatal wrecks, they wouldn’t have been fatal wrecks.

I don’t have a HANS yet. But I will before too long. I need to get a harness bar first to make sure the shoulder harnesses in the car come at me from the correct angles, but after that, the new-for-2008 HANS Sports model at $695 is on my list (plus a bit extra for the sliding-tether system that allows the degree of head turning needed for autocross). I paid the extra $42 when I got my helmet to have the HANS buttons attached from the factory, so that’s ready to go when I do get the HANS. I’ll probably be the only autocrosser wearing one — it’s not a sport where impact enters the equation except on very very rare occasions. Don’t care. It’s my basal skull, and I’d like to keep it intact. I figure it’ll be particularly reassuring when doing open track events.

At some point, I may have to spring for a full cage, but I’ll probably buy a car specifically for track-dog duty to do that. I am loathe to mangle the Cobra in ways not easily reversed. Everything I’ve done to it so far is reversible and I could have the car back to factory stock in a few days of work (most of the effort would be replacing the urethane suspension bushings with OEM-spec rubber bushings), and I have all the stock hard parts I’ve replaced (springs, shocks, original seat).

I’m ready to go racing. It’s a huge stress-reliever for me, and right now, I’ve got a lot of stress to relieve.



  1. What are you running in the 1/4mile on that? I know some of the public tracks had a helment and 5 pt harness requirement for under 12’s (which was laughable in my opinion—but you know lawyers…). Roll cage <10 (if I recall correctly it's been a while—and I know it varies from state-to-state, track-to-track).


    1. Never had it at a dragstrip. The thing is, at the level I can afford to do it, drag racing bores the hell out of me. All I care about is my reaction time and my 60-foot, which tells me how *I* did. Give me John Force’s budget and that’s a different story. šŸ˜€ The safety regs come from whatever sanctioning body’s (mostly NHRA, some are IHRA) rules are in play at that track. The state has nothing to do with it (thank the ghods). But yeah, typically helmets if you’re running 11.99 or faster, and 10.49 (may be 10.99) or faster needs an NHRA-approved rollbar system. This is an SCCA Solo (autocross) car prepared to the Street Prepared rules. I also run occasional open-track events in it. It doesn’t have a cage, nor is one required for autocross — which is basically a time-trial on a course outlined with cones. Standing start, flying finish. 2 second penalty for each cone either displaced from its marked box or knocked over. We set up courses in big parking lots or pieces of airport (with permission of the site owners, of course). That said, it does have a 6-point harness (I run a split anti-submarine strap so I don’t have to drill holes in the floor of the car as I would for a single), which is primarily so I can stay in the seat without having to use my arms to hold me in place. The seat itself is a big part of the equation, or I’d just run my stock seat. Okay, funny dragstrip story. SCCA ProSolo uses two mirror-image courses with an NHRA-style Christmas Tree starting system — you’re still running against the clock (your best left plus your best right is your score for the event), but the added thrill is running head-to-head with another competitor. Several years (and a couple different race cars) ago, I had my Probe GT (the original Gryphon) out at the local dragstrip for the Wednesday night test-n-tune to practice my tree starts going into the first ProSolo of the season. To that end, I had my then-state-of-the-art BFGoodrich Comp T/A R1s on the front, and the car had a custom 2.5″ mandrel-bent catalyst-back exhaust with a Supertrapp muffler, so it looked and sounded pretty quick. I was running “NO TIME” on the windshield so the track wouldn’t put my times on the board, which also intrigued people. But all I cared about was my RT and 60-foot times. Well, there was this guy with a supercharged, nitrous-oxide-injected C*m*r* in the staging lanes, and he kept wanting to run me for cash. I kept saying no, knowing full well this was an 11-second or better car (even though the driver was running high 12s with it ’cause he was an idiot). Finally, couldn’t stand it anymore. Told him I’d run him, pulled $50 out of my wallet and said — again — I’d run him, but the ONLY thing that counted was reaction time. He bit, figuring his bad-ass C*m*r* would stomp my little front-driver. What he didn’t know was that I’d been cutting .507-.508 lights (against a .500 perfect light) all evening. So he pulls out $50, one of his girlfriends holds the money, and we line up… and he’s going for it. The lights come down… yellow, yellow, yellowGO-GO-GO. I launch, same as always, and by the 60-foot timer, he’s blowing past me. Run to the end, stop and get our slips… and I’ve cut a .502 light. His? .7something. He says he hit the nitrous at the line and what happened was it blew the tires off. Well, DUH. Collected the pot and went back to my pit spot to get my stuff and head out of there, figuring there was gonna be a fight if I didn’t. Before I can get the front tires changed, though, he and his pals come up, and he’s pissed. Wants to run it again, double or nothing. “No.” “Why not?” “Take a look at my timeslips for the night and tell me if you think you can beat my RT.” Hand him my slips (with my notes), in order: .510, .508, .507, .508, .507, .507, .507, .502. “You didn’t tell me what kind of lights you were cutting!” “You didn’t ask.” Heh. That was, I think, the last time I was at a dragstrip, and that must’ve been 12 years ago.


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