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May 28, 2005

Drivers Ed and safety equipment

I'm going to the June 13th drivers education track day in Brainerd International Speedway. So, time to buy a helmet. I'd looked at Bell helmets online and the M2 or M2 Pro (lighter) were my choices. I also wanted a Hans Device figuring it's the safest setup without ripping the car apart. But, noone will sell a Hans online so I went to the Hans Device site to find a dealer. This was very fortunate as we'll soon see.

The dealer was in Oakdale MN, Apex Spg. I phoned to see if they were open this morning (Sat) and the guy said he'd meet me at the store at 12pm. So, hopped in the car and the place was pretty easy to find.

The owners name was Jim Bryant and this guy was just awesome. He's an instructor for the Porsche club and BMW club and has a race prepped Porsche 944 which looked very nice. He asked first about my experience and then sized me for a helmet. He measured my head using a tape first and then produced a Bell M2 which fit pretty snug. I had even pressure across my brow and it was against my cheeks. He then tried twisting the helmet left and right (looking to see that my skin moved) and then asked me to look up and to my left and did some more tests. Then lean forward and he tried to pull the helmet off and then I'm fitted.

Then he measured my neck for the Hans device but the one in stock was too big for me. A smaller one was coming next week. The hans is very light. This model was 860 bucks and the 'pro' was 1300 but the normal one is so light, it's a marginal improvement. I asked if with the Hans, the M2 Pro helmet was worth it and he said no. Without the Hans, get the M2 Pro (it's lighter) with the Hans, the Hans negates the benefit of the lighter Pro although in a side impact, the pro would still have an edge. Then I just put it on and asked how it works in my car and then he realised I didn't have a 6 pt belt. OOPS. It doesn't work without a racing seatbelt setup. I then said, ok, what else can I do.

So, he showed me new front seats and a seat belt harness that goes behind the front seat between the pillars. I'd then use a 5/6 pt seat belt and the Hans works. I can still use my normal 3pt for day to day. All these mods can be done with no drilling and are reversible. Total cost would be between 300-800 for one seat and 300 for the rest. I'm thinking about that right now but didn't pull the trigger.

What else? I said. He showed me a D-Cell device. This was about 20% less effective than a Hans but it's all relative. According to some stats I've seen, no device gives a neck strain of around 11000 (3000 is fatal) in a 60mph collision. The Hans was 2100, the D-cell 2500. So big improvement over nothing but not as good as Hans BUT doesn't require car mods. He also showed me an R3 which looks like a Hans but doesn't require mods. The R3 looks better. I've decided to get the D-Cell for now (480 bucks) but just noticed the R3 is available and is approved for NASCAR and I may switch to that but need to make my mind up quickly.

I bought some sparco gloves (X-Pro) and a sparco balaclava to try absorb sweat.

So, all in all, bought my helmet, gloves and a balaclava today and have a D-Cell on order. Jim was great, very knowledgable, no bullshit kind of guy. I spent 2 hours with him talking about various aspects of safety and if you're in the area, you gotta visit him.

May 28, 2005 in Weblogs | Permalink

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