Regardless of your racing preference, whenever a rollcage is involved you know you’ve reached the point of no return. That’s not to say you couldn’t install a bolt-in cage and preserve the originality of your car, but when it’s time to really get serious with racing, a weld-in cage is the only way to go. Street cars are instantly dubbed as race cars when there’s an expanse of tubing in the driver’s compartment, but it’s part of the go-fast bug. And if that go-fast bug involves traveling the quarter-mile in less than 11.49 seconds, you’re going to need a rollbar. When you’ve reached the point of being kicked out of dragstrips because of a lack of safety equipment, it’s certainly time to step up with a five- or six-point rollbar.
While a six-point bar is a common component in many street/strip cars, it is often upgraded to a full rollcage as the car continues to progress in terms of its performance. Cars quicker than 9.99 are required to have a full rollcage, meaning it must have A-pillar bars in addition to the main hoop, door bars, and rear support bars. Generally, an eight-point cage is sufficient, but certain body styles benefit from more complex rollcages, like a 10- or 12-point, which has additional attachment points. The rollcage installation seen here is a 10-point setup, good for elapsed times 8.50 and slower, so the owner has plenty of latitude when it comes to making horsepower.
We followed along with the guys from Top End Fabrication in Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, as they built a rollcage from scratch. Jason Harvey and Shane Brown run the shop, and they’ve been installing rollcages in all sorts of cars for quite some time. For this article, they’ll do their magic on a ’95 Camaro Z28 owned by Daniel Anderson. With plans for big cubic inches, and the possibility of a power-adder, Daniel wants to be certain his fourth-generation Camaro will pass tech at the track, and keep him safe at all times. He could’ve bought a cage from a number of manufacturers, but he chose to have Jason and Shane fabricate a cage, as the end result will generally lead to a better-fitting piece. Pre-bent cages are designed with universal fitment in mind, but a custom cage can be fit tightly against the inner body panels, thus giving you more room inside the car.
One very important aspect of a rollcage often goes unnoticed, and that is strength. Obviously, the main job of a rollcage is to protect the driver, but it also adds a great deal of strength to the chassis, especially one with a unibody structure, such as Daniel’s Camaro. The key to taking advantage of this strength is tying the subframes together, so Top End also fabricated and installed through-the-floor subframe connectors. Custom outriggers protrude from the main part of the connector, which makes for a super strong attachment point for the cage. With the addition of subframe connectors and a 10-point rollcage, Daniel’s Camaro is ready for major abuse at the track.
Let’s see what went in to puttting it all together.