From digest.v7.n1104 Tue Feb 10 00:24:14 1998
From: Duane Collie <trapdnce_at_erols.com>
Date: Mon, 09 Feb 1998 22:57:05 -0500
Subject: Harnesses and Bars
>From: Jim Ochi <jochi_at_firstfloor.COM>
>Date: Mon, 09 Feb 1998 13:10:05 -0800
>Subject: <E36> Harness Bar?
>Does anyone have any experience with the European Autosports harness bar
>kit? I guess I have two questions about it. One, how easy is it to
>install/remove? Two, how sturdy is it - do I fasten the shoulder straps
>around the bar, or do I have to run the straps over the bar and bolt them
>to the floor? I'd like to add harnesses to my E36 M3 for autocrossing and
>driving schools, but I'd like to be able to remove them easily when I don't
>need them. Also, I'd like to do this in the safest, but lowest-impact
>method (I don't want to drill any holes or cut anything if possible). The
>European Autosports kit seems to offer this, and in addition would give me
>a secure video camera mount, so it seems like it may be the way to go. Any
>pros or cons that you may have would be appreciated.
This is a real mixed bag. You really need to figure out how SAFE you want
to be before you install any harness and bar systems as its all a trade
off. For autocross and low-impact Driver's School (if you are merely
slightly-rabid), consider the 2" Schroth Ralleye 4 harness which is very
non-invasive and does a real good job of holding you securely in the seat.
Its also has a non-invasive mounting system. You can get these new from
HMS Motorsport for about $ 160 a seat. Skip the Harness bar with this
Harness bars are designed to work with wrap-around 3" Competition belts. A
couple of problems with harness bars....yes you can remove them but its not
all THAT easy. You'll probably leave it hooked up. Harness bars (and
rollbars) are deadly to rear seat passengers in a collision if your
passengers are not securely buckled up and even then they should be well
padded. You still need mounts for the lap portion of your 3" Competition
belt, even thought the top is wrapped around the bar and guide slots. The
best and proper mounts require you to drill into the car floorboard, two
per side for the lap belts. The Harness bar is a convenience item, not a
Now, if you are a RABID Driver and are into pushing your M3 hard on the
course, you should skip the harness bar and get a rollbar. A rollbar can
save your life whereas all the harness bar (with camera) can do is video
tape the roof collapse around your head for your next of kin. Would make a
great short film for your wake! Remember that once you upgrade your belts,
you can no longer be forced to 'slide' sideways out of them in a crash as
you can with street belts. A harness holds you FIRM in the seat and your
neck becomes the fulcrum point if you roll the car. Necks don't do to well
at this (biologically underengineered). I've seen the roof structure of my
M3 when we replaced the roof of the car - there's not a lot there. A good
rollbar is not much more invasive than a harness bar. Yes you have to
drill holes (12) to install a roll + the belts holes. No big deal once you
get the courage to Drill your $ 40K car full of holes.
A cage is even better, but at that point you cease having a street car.
Tough Choices. Auto-X is not very dangerous, harness alone should do it as
the point is to HOLD you still in the seat so you don't slide around on the
hard, tight turns. When you get to track speeds however, the harness has a
new job - to save your life in a collison. To that end they should really
be used with a roll bar or cage, and a proper rigid (non-reclining) seat.
One of the nightmares that can occur is to roll your car at speed with a
competition harness and no roll bar. Lights out.
When I started Driver's Schools I had nothing more than a helmet and long
sleeve T-shirt. As I keep watching car 'incidents' at these schools I have
become a real believer in safety gear and now have everything the Club
Racers have except the window net: SA95 Helmet, Rollbar, 3" Competition
Belts, Fire Extinguisher, Helmet Collar, Nomex Suit, Gloves and Shoes.
Rigid Driver's seat will be next (did you know the back of the stock
recliner seats can break and collapse in a hard collision - decapitation
from the roll bar diagonal is possible.)
Another quick tip for the track and harness crowd: Disconnect your airbag
on the track IF you are running a harness. That way you won't blow your
airbags if you hit the Armco barrier and can come away with a $ 1,500
bumper fix instead of a $ 4,000 job when the airbags blow (The E36
passenger side airbag has a nasty habit of blowing the windshield when it
activates as well). To disconnect, pull up the rear seat, locate the
airbag sensor, pull the sensor lead wire off. Your airbag fault light will
glow but you can put a piece of tape over it for the day. Hook up your wire
again before you drive home (Bob Stommel tip!).
As you can see, I'm not a harness bar supporter. They look nice, but a
rollbar is WAY better and makes a hellva stiff strut support to boot.
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