Tech Update Article

Driver Education Tech Update

With the dawning of a new driving year, some of the newer rules for Tech Inspection from last year need to be clarified. Or brought back to our attention after the long period of rest.
Last year, PCA National handed down some new “suggestions” to enhance the safety of our riving events. The most talked about update was the “Cabriolet rollover protection” rule. In laymen terms, cabriolet is convertible is soft top. All cars with these soft tops will have supplemental rollover protection as in roll bar, roll hoop, Cage, or automatic roll bars. 996 cabs and Boxsters have roll bars from the factory. 993 cabs, 944 cabs, 911 cabs, not come with enough roll over protection.. These cars will be required to have aftermarket bars installed. There are other makes of cars with built in protection: some models from Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, and Mazda come to mind. (Check with me prior to the event if you are in doubt about your particular car.)
Next update is that cars with soft tops will need to pass the “broom stick” test. (Do this at home...) Sit in the drivers seat with your helmet on, lower the top, place the broom from the windshield back to the roll bar. If your helmet is above this line, it is not safe. If you are wearing standard 3 point harnesses, there is some slack as you will slip down into the seat if you roll over. (Again, ask me and I can look at it during tech. Might try to get in touch with me earlier to have time to get roll bar installed if needed...) If you choose to wear 5/6 point harnesses, the rule needs to be enforced strictly as you will not slip and the situation during a roll over becomes grave. Example: Tall person driving a Miata’s with 5 point harnesses with stock seats. Head sticks up above the “broom” line 2-3 inches. Your neck is in danger. Err on the side of safety!
Next update is that these cars will run with the tops on or up unless the driver and passenger (instructor) both have arm restraints. We prefer you to not use arm restraints as when they are properly installed, they hinder in giving good passing signals while on track. And instructors like to use hand signals so the driver can see the track better.
Next update is the “Like restraint” rule. If the driver has a race seat and 5/6 point harnesses, then your instructor needs the same equipment. If your are being held in place with a piece of rope, then the instructor can use that same piece of rope. <grin> (Thanks Steve K.) If you can not afford 2 sets of seats and harnesses, then run with your stock 3 point harness as long as you have an instructor in the car.
Last update is the dreaded “Grid Tech”. There was an instance of somebody getting teched a week before the event, car passed as it was then, they changed tires the morning of the event, and (uh ho) the tires fell off the car while on track. OOPS... Missed getting the lugs torqued right with enough stud into the lug. So, when Green and Blue students come to grid, the instructor will walk you around your car doing a quick check of some important things. List as follows: Wheel torque, tire tread, empty all of the pockets in the car, empty the trunk(s), remove cell phones and radar detectors, do you have brake fluid, what pressure are you running in your tires, are there any noticeable leaks from under the car, etc. The higher run groups will be spot checked, but hey should have enough time on track to know what to do..??
This is a drivers education event. Big on education. It is not the tech inspectors or instructors responsibility to keep up with your car. We are teaching and reinforcing the needed points to help you keep the event running safely. Learning more about your car and the check points that need attention when driving your high performance sport car will only help you long term - on track as well as off the track. Helping you to become better tuned to your fine driving machine.