Here’s the first public look at the NASCAR roll cage for 2013, built to comply with rules changes for next year intended to improve driver safety.
Mac’s Motor City Garage is indebted to ace fabricator Kevin Bryde of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, who provided these photos and supplied the technical briefing.
First, in the photos above and below, note that the halo bar—the tube around the top of the cage that roughly describes the roof perimeter—has been doubled up with a second tube (yellow arrows) at the front along the top of the windshield. Now there are two full tubes, generously spaced, across the leading edge of the cage in front of the driver’s forehead.
Next, note another new tube (red arrow) that starts at the rear join of the Earnhardt bar and runs diagonally down to the right front (passenger) foot well area, adding an additional element of triangulation in the cage structure.
For the clarification of us non-NASCAR folk, the Earnhardt bar (white arrows below) is the vertical tube at the front center of the roll cage that runs down through the dash area just behind the windshield. This tube is named after Dale Earnhardt, Sr. and was inspired by a notorious 1996 crash at Talladega in which the nose of another race car penetrated Earnhardt’s windshield area.
Kevin explains that the new diagonal down tube has been carefully positioned so that the driver’s vision is in no way obstructed. Also, with the top six or so inches of the windshield blacked out, the new double halo bar will not be visible from outside the car.
In the most superficial way, the roll cage in a NASCAR race car hasn’t changed in decades. It’s still mild steel seamless DOM tubing, 1.75-inch diameter, .090-in. wall, MIG welded into a very familiar looking assembly. But over the past dozen years, nearly every detail has been agonized, sweated over, and optimized to produce the safest possible structure. In today’s NASCAR, safety is a total process.
For a story and video about the aerodynamic body design of the 2013 NASCAR Ford Fusion, including CFD studies, click here.
For a story on the most recent testing of the new-look 2013 cars at Talladega, including a large photo gallery of all the 2013 body designs, click here.
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