Next, master welder Mark Manieri tack welds the cage into place for fitment. Once satisfied, final welding can commence. Here is a little trick used at Half Scale: Once the front bars are welded, the back tack welds are broken free to continue welding fully around the bar, thus alleviating the need to remove the windshield. Since this is chromoly, it must be TIG welded all the way around or the cage will fail NHRA inspection.
Summit Racing Equipment in Tallmadge, Ohio, was called upon to supply us with a plethora of safety and interior items. First up was a set of Kirkey aluminum seats with cushioned black covers. The seats will help with a significant weight savings, great looks, and added safety through rigid construction. Next we opted for a pair of Simpson Racing harnesses to keep us planted in the seat at all times.
While our Strange Engineering brake system should be more than adequate in the stopping department, we also obtained a Simpson Skyjacker drag chute if additional assistance is needed and because the rules indicate we need to have one on board for our sub-9-second trips. And finally we snagged a nice looking chrome MaxOut fire extinguisher to have aboard, just in case a fire breaks out in the cockpit.
Now that the trunk was packed with goodies, we headed off to see Randy Ditzel and crew at Half Scale Dragster, a division of Race Specialties, Inc. Half Scale is located near the Pennsylvania border in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. Some of you may be familiar with Randy as he and the late Vincent Napp pioneered the Junior Dragster movement. Today Randy and the crew at Half Scale mainly focus on creating new technology and keeping at the top in Junior Dragster fabrication, but still enjoy working on the occasional full size vehicle when called upon.
Let's get welding.
In the end, the consumer with above average skills and some specialty equipment can probably do the installation of the roll cage and the coil-over conversion, although we opted to let a professional do the work. When your life is on the line, as well as your opponent's life, an experienced professional is definitely the way to go. Once again, be sure to understand what you are getting into through research, and check your sanctioning body's rules for additional clarification.
Stay tuned, as future installments will have us performing a frame notch to allow fitment of our Billet Specialties Street Lite wheels out back and the installation of our fuel system from Aeromotive, Inc.
Depending on the vehicle, the door bars can be custom bent to your liking. Randy bent our bar out slightly near the shoulder area and then a more pronounced bend toward the bottom so that we can retain the stock door panels, handles and armrests. Randy uses a 1 5/8-inch hole saw in the drill press to notch the bar as needed.