I'm talking to you sportsman Pro and Outlaw racers with turbos or centrifugal superchargers, with intercoolers. I know they work great and all that, but have you ever considered that having an intercooler might possibly lead to your death?
Got your attention?
Most of the intercoolers I see these days (the air to water type) are mounted in the passenger seat area, with a big 4” tube coming out of the blower or turbo, going through the firewall in to the intercooler, and another 4” tube going back to the engine compartment into the throttle body. The intercoolers themselves are pretty large, and of course the tubing is big, too.
Question - have you, as a driver, ever tried to get out of your car over the top of this stuff?
Picture this - you have a problem on the track, maybe forced up against the wall on the driver's side or maybe you have crunched the wall and shoved the left front fender back so the driver's door is jammed shut. The car is on fire, and your only exit is out the passenger side door.
Not a pretty picture, but it can happen, can't it?
Have you ever tried to get out that way? I bet not. Next time you are doing nothing and your car is sitting in your driveway, climb into the driver's seat, with all of your safety equipment on, including your gloves, helmet, neck collar and everything else, buckled in, just like you were going to make a pass. Now, at the count of three, get out the passenger side. If someone has a stop-watch, I bet you will be surprised at how long it takes. And that's assuming you don't get your shoelaces or gloves hung up on something on your way out.
Today, with all the new SFI chassis specs, the required funny car cage and all the new required tubing in the door area, a driver is truly “stuck in the saddle”. Now add to that an intercooler assembly that could possibly be blocking one of your two exits. If for some reason the exit on the driver's side is blocked, then what?
At least in a Funny Car, there is an escape hatch on top.
Getting out on the passenger side is something to think about and I suggest that all drivers take a look at this issue, even if you don't have an intercooler in the way. Can you get your fat body over the top of your shifter handle? Can you get to the passenger side door handle? Planning in advance might just save your life.
Talking about funny cars, let's discuss protective clothing for a minute. Most of the racers in the hot cars have protective clothing (jacket and pants or a suit) meeting SFI Spec 3.2A/5. This is the typical Pro Stock suit and is good down to 7.50 ET. But let's think about this a minute. A Pro Stocker is running carburetors, no power adders and only about 7 to 10 PSI of fuel pressure. Here you are in your race car with as much or more HP than a NHRA Pro Stocker, running a big blower or turbo and with about 80 PSI of fuel pressure. Why not step up to a Funny Car required fire suit? The drivers of the alky cars have to use a SFI Spec 3.2A/15 and the fuel guys are required to wear the SFI Spec 3.2A/20 suit. There is no rule that states that you are required to only use the minimum spec, is there?
When it comes to safety, consider going all out and not just up to the minimum requirements.
It's your ugly body we're talking about, after all.
© Competitionplus 2004