Fabricating and welding - High And Tight

Fabricating and welding a standing-mile legal 8-point rollcage in SALT

Justin Cesler Sep 19, 2012 0 Comment(s)
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There is a section near the end of the Texas Mile rule book entitled Automobile-Required Safety Equipment (At or Over 215 mph) and it's where things start to get real if you're building a car of this caliber. Fire extinguisher, helmet, safety belts--that's all the easy stuff. The cage rules are where it gets exciting. "All cars that are attempting speed at or over 215 mph are required to have an eight-point rollbar at minimum. The materials and minimums are as follows..." Under 3,000 pounds, the cage rules are fairly similar to a drag race setup; over 3,000 and you are required to run large 1.75-inch round DOM with thick .120-inch walls, and, as stated above, it's got to be a minimum of 8 points to pass tech. If you're thinking that's relatively "small" for a car going 215, try to keep in mind that there are no walls to hit on the runway (well, hopefully anyway) and there isn't another car to get tangled up with. Really, for an impact, you're going to have to end up in a rollover situation, which is why door bars combined with a solid main hoop (and rear X-brace) is a good idea. Now, where can one even get a large 1.75-inch 8-point cage these days?

Turns out our friends over at Competition Engineering offer the perfect Mild Steel 8-point kit for the third- and fourth-generation F-body platform (PN C3131), which ships complete with 1.75-inch, .134-inch wall mild steel tubes, 6x6x.125-inch steel mounting plates, and enough tubing to complete the entire 8-point structure. For the money, Competition Engineering notches the tube ends for a good fit, mandrel bends the main hoop, and includes complete instructions for the do-it-yourself racer. These cages are NHRA and IHRA approved as long as your welding can pass tech and you can order an additional C-brace and rocker bar kit to really enhance the entire cage and chassis setup. Of course, that little part about the welding is the real key as even the best rollcage is only as strong as the weakest weld. Thus it's paramount to find a good fabricator and one that is extremely comfortable building safe rollcages.

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For us, that was as simple as jumping in the truck, driving back up to Vengeance Racing, and letting the lead fabricator, Jey Clegg, do what he does best. Jey's been TIG welding tubes for years and cut his teeth building off-road racers before switching over to the top speed variety. The Competition Engineering kit was the perfect start for the talented fabricator, who used it as a foundation for the build. Naturally, Jey made a couple of changes to the cage from its original design (which you can see on the following pages), but that's exactly why you want to find a good cage builder. These guys can just see what needs to be done and they can do it. When we wanted to add X-style door bars, Vengeance Racing had them mocked up and TIG'd in place within the hour. But enough about Jey, let's break out the TIG machine and get welding!

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