Racing your Mopar can be a challenging and exciting hobby as long as you take the proper safety precautions. We all like going fast in our cars, but an accident at the high speeds that most Mopars attain in the quarter-mile can be disastrous, so safety equipment must be added to a race car to minimize the risk of driver injury. Good seat belts, a helmet, and long pants are mandatory when racing even the mildest street car, but what if you want to go faster? Since the goal for our project Barracuda is some solid 10-second timeslips and speeds at around 130 mph in the quarter, we need to ensure the car is both safe to drive and able to pass NHRA technical inspection since we'll be racing at several sanctioned tracks. In this article, we'll show you the proper way to install a rollcage in any car, and we'll make project B-3 safer, stiffer, and more consistent in the process.
While nobody goes to the track planning to wreck their car, the fact is that stuff happens. Accidents are a part of life, and the racetrack-while considerably safer than driving on most highways-is no exception. Even if you're a great driver and your car is in top condition, you never know when the brand X guy or girl in the next lane will blow their motor, cross the center, and run into you, so precautions must be taken.
Adding a rollbar or rollcage...
Adding a rollbar or rollcage to your Mopar offers many benefits, including improved safety, stiffness, and the ability to pass strict NHRA tech when you're at the track. Follow along as we show you how to install a rollcage in your Mopar.
Anytime you perform chassis...
Anytime you perform chassis work that involves welding, it's important to be sure the frame is level both side-to-side and front-to-back. We used a level on the rocker panel at the doorjamb, then the top of the cowl to ensure our car was level during the installation. Remember, if the chassis is not true when the cage is welded, the cage will permanently hold the chassis in its warped state causing suspension problems.
Sheetmetal can be used to...
Sheetmetal can be used to shim the car on the jackstands until it is level.
The greatest safeguard we take when building a race car is to add a rollcage. The rollcage is designed for one purpose-to save the driver from injury or death in case of an accident. Even so, some racers and especially street enthusiasts are reluctant to add the weight of a cage to their cars. Years ago, the NHRA and other sanctioning bodies mandated that cars of a certain speed be equipped with a rollcage. So we know why we have to do it-to be safe and because the NHRA says so-but a rollcage can also benefit a race car in other ways. If installed properly, a rollcage will add significant chassis stiffness, which equates to more consistent elapsed times and reaction times, and less wear and tear on the car.
While a rollcage can be manufactured out of raw tubing, there is a better way. Since our shop isn't equipped with a tubing bender, we decided to purchase a rollcage kit from Competition Engineering for our car. Competition Engineering makes rollbar and rollcage kits for all popular Mopars, which makes it easy to add a cage to any car. Our Competition Engineering A-body kit included all the bars to install a 12-point rollcage, and the main components were prebent, only needing to be trimmed to size before installation. Since the kit only costs a minimal amount more than the raw tubing itself, it's well worth the few extra dollars not to have to worry about bending the tubes ourselves. The only real choice we had to make was whether to fabricate our cage out of chrome-moly tubing or out of mild steel. While chrome-moly is stronger, and therefore lighter since thinner wall material can be used, it does require a TIG welder, which we don't have. A mild steel cage is a little heavier, but is easily welded using our Lincoln Electric MIG welder. Since this is a bracket car, the weight savings of chrome-moly just doesn't justify the extra cost and hassle of welding chrome-moly tubing, so we opted for a mild steel kit.