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Racing Seats As Carbon Fiber Components

By Superleggera Subscribe to RSS | January 20th 2012 | Views:
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Although seats can almost seem like an afterthought as a race car component, its placement and construction has in fact become a significant part of competition car design. In the early days of racing, race car seats were practically chairs, with no thought to ergonomics or driver stability. Today however, seat design strives to hold the driver in place while being as light as possible. There is a reason competition racing seats look like they do, and this is to support the driver’s shoulders, ribs and hips. In conjunction with a 5- or 6-point harness, these race car components secure the driver in a position that allows him to concentrate on the task at hand.

In this regard, racing seats have become one of the mainstays for using carbon fiber components in racing cars. Carbon fibre seats are optimized for light weight with enough strength to withstand the stresses, and sometimes impacts, of racing. But they also have to be relatively compact to allow practical placement within the space reserved for the driver. In vehicles like rally cars for example, the driver’s and co-driver’ seats are actually mounted differently, with the co-driver’s mounted low and as close to the floor as possible to aid in weight distribution. The driver’s seat, meanwhile, is mounted for optimum reach of the controls, while being mounted relatively high up to give the driver the best field of view. With prototype and sports racing cars, the seats are centered for provide the best weight distribution possible.

Compared to the aluminum and leather padded seats that used to make up one of the race car components of a competition vehicle, carbon fibre seats offer much lighter weight and higher strength. And because they can be molded in more flowing, one-piece shapes, drivers are more comfortable when using these carbon fiber components. In fact, taking a cue from single seat racers, there are now carbon fiber fabricators who offer custom-molded seats shaped for a particular driver. Needless to say, these carbon fiber components are much more expensive, as they require one-off molds for each particular driver. But at the highest levels of the sport where driver distraction should be kept to a minimum, these custom seats can spell the difference between a driver who can put in consistent laps and one who has to adjust his position in the seat from time to time to avoid discomfort. Not all types of high performance driving require these one-off seats. In fact, endurance racers, which have multiple driver changes over a 12- or 24-hour race cannot have these type of seats as one that conforms to a particular driver may be the cause of sores for his teammate.

Seats as race car components have come a long way since the early days of racing. The way carbon fiber seats can be molded nowadays means that driver comfort and safety does not have to take a back seat to optimizing the performance of a race car.

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