Just A Reminder About Adding Shoulder Harnesses To Street Cars, Even Vipers

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
just a reminder about adding shoulder harnesses to street cars even vipers

Somewhat oddly for the site that used to prioritize being FIRST POST above everything else, Jalopnik was last out of the gate with their review of the Viper ACR. I think it was worth the wait, because it was written by legitimate sports-car-racing hero Andy Lally. You can check it out here. As competent a racer and driver as I think I am, Andy’s obviously on the proverbial next level.

Which is why it made me sad to read one of the story’s last paragraphs.

Andy tells us:

Last but not least, if you are serious about buying this car please take these next words as serious as you will take any other advice. BUY THE SIX POINT SEATBELT UPGRADE. I did three flying laps in this car with a regular belt and had to pull into the pits because for as much grip as you can generate, a regular shoulder belt does not keep you in place well enough.

In Dodge’s defense, I was vocal about this right away and they explained that they are prohibited from selling a street car with these belts. They did have a car on-site with six-point belts installed and it was much more pleasant. The car is built so that you can easily install them. Check that box when ordering.

In Andy’s defense, I think he has about as much experience with “trackday specials” as I do with [s]any kind of[/s] lambskin condoms. He is what they call a “real racer” who “really races” in “real race cars”. So when he gets in a car on-track it has six-point belts and a full rollcage and, more often than not, a monocoque designed to distribute crash impact.

The Viper ACR is capable of hitting a wall at a racetrack at nearly the same speed a World Challenge GT car could achieve. But it has absolutely no additional rollover protection besides what is built into the body. It is designed to roll over in a way that protects conventionally belted passengers. The interior is made of things that are softer than a steel tube. If the roof collapses because there aren’t enough steel tubes around the driver, the three-point belt will allow said driver to slide a bit to avoid said collapsing roof.

Unless, that is, you have shoulder harnesses, in which case your neck will be the fulcrum on which the car’s entire weight is focused. Do not expect to be able to resume your place in your high-school track team after that happens.

This is not the first time I’ve written about this. Nor will it be the last. Because it’s important for you to know. If, however, you happen to be able to drive a Viper ACR as quickly as Andy Lally undoubtedly can, you can make a change to your car that will bridge the gap between the loosey-goosey but rollover-safe feel of a three-point belt and the strapped-in immobilization of a proper racing harness. It’s called a CG-Lock, and it works well enough that Bob Lutz put one on his car when he and I did the CTS-V Challenge way back in the Stone Age.

And if you, like many TTACers, thought the Chevette photo was the coolest part of article, go check out Darren’s site, why don’t ya?

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4 of 24 comments
  • Misplacedape Misplacedape on Jul 22, 2015

    "the three-point belt will allow said driver to slide a bit to avoid said collapsing roof" is there a basis for this assumption? after your original article i searched and every technical journal publication i found stated higher risk of injury correlating to a higher degree of the occupant moving around in a rollover circumstance. effectively suggesting that the three point is a compromise but the objective is to keep the passenger as still as possible. i raise the question genuinely as opposed to trollishly as i think it is a very worthwhile discussion, but predicated on that single important assumption.

    • See 1 previous
    • Misplacedape Misplacedape on Jul 22, 2015

      @JuniperBug i was specifically looking for research relating to restraint design and crash simulation for cars without roll cages in rollover conditions so they were typical passenger vehicles

  • Ryoku75 Ryoku75 on Jul 22, 2015

    No matter how many times this site links its good pals at Jalopnik, I'm still not reading anything there. I hope this site doesn't become a hub for "Link this article and I'll pay you some ad revenue", I have public TV for advertisements.

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  • NormSV650 I had a 2014 Vsport back in the day. It have a quiver feeling over some bumps in turns. Currently have a 2018 CT6 it is very solid and a great driver's car for the size.
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