The Speedvision World Challenge 5-Point Harness
It's amusing to me to look back and realize how long ago I wrote this. I mean, who even remembers the Speedvision World Challenge??
I'm revisiting it just to add a little information about roll cages. I hinted at it in the original text but it's worth mentioning that
the Porsche Club of America (PCA) is intruducing new rules for their track day events with regard to cages and harnesses. Starting in 2019,
any driver using a harness must also be using some sort of head and neck restraint (HANS) device.
This ties in nicely with the warnings I'd given here. You might think you're making yourself safer with your mods but it's likely that
you're missing some critical information that could put you in far more danger than if you'd left well enough alone.
I'm not suggesting that it's not worth the effort to add safety devices to your car. I'm just STRONGLY stressing that you find someone
that's an expert in this field and talk to them about what you want to do before you do it. It could save your life of the life of your
This point is really more of a warning than anything else. I'd hate to see someone
because they thought they were improving the safety of their ride but really didn't
know what they were doing.
A racing harness is a safety feature that saves lives when used correctly but there
is much more to using one than simply bolting it to your car and strapping in. A
safety harness has to be part of a complete system of driver protection. If not
used properly, it will do more harm than good and this will explain a few reasons
why. Bear in mind that I'm not an engineer so there is much more to this than what
you'll read here. This should at least give you an understanding of what could go
wrong. Before changing anything you should carefully consider what you do and do
not know about
and how to modify systems that are there to keep you alive in the case of a mishap.
If you're only installing racing harnesses for looks, then have fun with it but
when you're driving, wear the stock belts.
If you want it for added safety, there are things that must be in place first. The
first, and also the least likely that you've even thought of, is a proper roll cage.
Even slow cars roll over now and then. Consider what will happen to you, in your
harness, if you should end up in a rollover crash. With the stock seat belt on,
your body is free to lean over into the middle of the car as the car rolls and the
roof is crushed. If you've got a harness holding you firmly in place in the middle
of the seat, you're going to stay upright and probably either lose your head or
almost certainly break your neck. You'll be left dead in a crash you would otherwise
have crawled out of mostly in one piece.
That is probably the most obvious and easy to understand example of how what you
thought was making you safer is actually placing you in danger. Another example
has to do with where the safety harness is bolted to the car. I've seen plenty of
cars with the harnesses bolted to the floor behind the seat. The belt then comes
up and over the shoulders, either over or through openings in the seat. With this
setup, in a front end collision when your body is thrown forward, instead of simply
holding you back in your seat, the harness can pull straight down on your shoulders,
compressing your spine and doing serious damage.
When you start messing with the safety systems in a car, it is extremely important
to realize that you're not an engineer and do not understand all the complexities
of what you're dealing with. While you think you're making an improvement, you may
well be taking a big step backwards in safety.
There's a reason stock belts are designed the way they are. To get added safety
from a harness, you need a roll cage. Then, with a roll cage, you either need a
whole bunch of padding or you shouldn't be driving without a helmet. You can see
how this all becomes pretty impractical for a street driven car.
Your harness CAN be useful if you're autocrossing though, where there's pretty much
nil chance of a rollover, but realistically your racing seats are going to provide
all the bolstering you need so you still don't need the harness to hold you in place.
I urge you to keep all this in mind before diving into these sorts of modifications.
It's literally your life on the line here.