By nature, racers are a breed of primates that have their priorities all mixed up. Why treat the old lady to a nice steak dinner when that same $50 will get you three gallons of race gas? She probably hasn't lost all that post-baby weight anyways, and my-oh-my does that Q16 fuel have a wickedly refreshing aroma to it. Likewise, while drag racers might think that nothing is more important than lighting up the scoreboard with a blazing e.t., in reality, staying safe is priority number one. Since few shops build fast late-model GM rides like the School of Automotive Machinists (www.samracing.com), we had them make sure that GMHTP's in-house NMCA LSX Real Street race car was up to code before loading up for the track.
Knowing that racers will be racers and try to skimp out on safety gear, the NHRA has made things easy by clearly outlining safety equipment mandates in its readily available rulebook. Strapped with a 451ci LS small-block that kicks out 720 hp, our '95 Camaro is projected to run deep 10-second quarter-mile e.t.'s on motor and high- to mid-8s on nitrous. That means it needs quite a bit of safety equipment to remain legal per NHRA rules, and as such, we installed a Chassisworks 8-point chrome-moly rollcage very early on in the build process. To put the finishing touches on the safety equipment, we installed the parachute, window net, seat harnesses, and fire extinguisher. The best news of all is that The Purp's tedious multi-year marathon build is nearly complete, and hopefully we'll be shaking it down at the track the next time you read about it in GMHTP.
1. The NHRA rulebook requires parachutes on all cars that run 150 mph or faster in the quarter-mile, regardless of e.t. Considering that The Purp should run over 140 mph before hitting the nitrous button, it seemed prudent to order up a Simpson Skyjacket parachute (PN: 42020BK) from Summit Racing. The reinforced nylon ’chute boasts a 10-foot diameter plume and extends 12-feet from the car, and can survive behind 200 mph deployments. An included .090-inch alloy mounting plate allows for easy bolt-in installation, and a Nomex ’chute pack and backing material provide additional peace of mind.
2. To keep the driver planted in the seat at all times, Summit set us up with a SFI 16.1 certified Simpson five-point harness (PN: 29116BK). It features three-inch-wide military grade webbing on the shoulder and lap belts, and a two-inch anti-submarine belt. To prevent fraying, the belts boast heat-sealed ends as well. Although some drivers prefer a traditional latch system, we opted for a camlock system just in case we ever have to make a quick exit.
3. While the shoulder harness wraps around the shoulder bar, the lap belts and crotch strap anchor to the floorboard using Grade 8 nitrided eyelet bolts. The belts loop around clips included with the Simpson mounting kit (PN: 31020), then snap directly onto the eyelets.
4. In the event of a spin or an impact, a window net ensures that a driver’s arms and torso stay inside the car. The NHRA requires SFI 27.1 certified nets in all cars running e.t.’s of 9.99 or quicker—and trap speeds 135 mph and faster—in the quarter-mile. As such, we went with a Stroud 24x18-inch net (PN: 501-01) and matched it up with a Stroud mounting kit (PN: 503).
5. Since fire is always a possibility in a race car, we ordered up a HalGuard fire extinguisher (PN: HG100C) from H3R Performance. Measuring just 10 inches tall and 3.6 inches in diameter, it will fit just about anywhere inside the cabin. For easy installation and speedy dismounting, it features an NHRA-approved quick-release billet bracket that can be mounted to a rollcage or any flat surface.
6. Not only are the factory rear bumper and rubber bumper support heavy, but they also take up a lot of space. To make room for the Burkhart Chassis chrome-moly bumper that would replace it, Dustin detached the rear bumper cover by removing a series of bolts and clips along the cover’s upper lip from inside the trunk and the spare tire compartment. The bumper itself attaches with four bolts on each side, which were accessed from beneath the car.
7. In addition to saving weight, the Burkhart Chassis rear bumper features an integrated parachute mount that attaches with a single bolt for easy removal. Installing the new bumper was as simple as bolting it in place of the stock piece using four bolts on each side. Although we ordered it separately from the parachute, Burkhart sells a complete kit that includes the bumper, parachute mount, parachute, and release cable for $700.
8. Since the parachute mount protrudes through the bumper cover, Dustin drilled a hole in the license plate area with a 1.75-inch holesaw. To properly locate the hole, Dustin test-fitted the cover and marked the position of the hole, using the keyhole as a reference point to help center it. To protect the paint, the hole was drilled outward from the inside of the bumper cover.
9. With the bumper cover bolted back onto the car, the parachute mount slides over the mounting stud. Although The Purp won’t spend much time on the street at all, for street/strip machines the trick Burkhart setup offers a slick way to mount up a ’chute at the track, then easily unbolt it for more inconspicuous street cruising.
10. From the bottom side of the car, there’s a single Grade 8 bolt that locks the parachute mount down to the bumper mounting stud. It also has provisions to clip the bottom lip of the bumper cover to the bumper.
11. For quick and easy access, Dustin mounted the fire extinguisher on the passenger side of the transmission hump. He first mocked it into position using the supplied sheetmetal screws, and then secured it to the floor with 3⁄8-inch bolts and nuts welded to the trans tunnel.
12. As luck would have it, the Simpson harness eyelets threaded right into the factory seatbelt holes. Dustin gripped the eyelets with a big adjustable wrench and cinched them down nice and tight.
13. With the eyelets in place, the lap belts and crotch strap loop around the Simpson clip and snap them to the floor. Mounting the crotch strap required drilling a hole in the floorboard, and welding in a nut for the eyelet to thread into. Don’t mind the new carpet just yet. We’ll cover the installation process in the next story.
14. After installing the lap belts and crotch strap, Dustin reinstalled the driver seat and wrapped the shoulder harness around the shoulder bar of the cage. We opted for pull-up style belts, but Simpson offers pull-down style belts as well.
15. The Stroud mounting kit includes braces that support the top and bottom of the window net. The bottom brace welds to the main hoop on one end, and the door bar on the other end. Installation of the bottom brace is permanent, so don’t forget to install the net before finish-welding it in place.
16. The back side of the upper window net brace slides into a sleeve that must be welded at the intersection of the main hoop and halo bar. The quick release mechanism on the front side of the brace utilizes a GM-style belt buckle. By welding a buckle to the halo bar and a buckle tab to the brace, removing the window net is a one-handed affair.
17. Although it won’t do much for performance, Dustin laid down a strip of Jaz rollbar padding on the door bar. Since our cage doesn’t have swing-outs, the padding will make climbing in and out of the car a less painful task.