OUTLAW DIESEL Super Series competitors take diesel drag racing seriously. They continue to push the sport forward with technology and innovations that yield them higher top speeds and faster elapsed times in the eighth-mile. As the trucks (and cars) get faster, they have to be up to par with the required safety equipment.
No matter a competitor’s skill level behind the wheel, even the best must have the proper safety gear. Because there are so many variables that can affect a vehicle traveling at high speed, it is impossible for anyone to know if or when something might happen on the track. So having as much good safety equipment as possible is imperative. From the most minor incidents to the harshest crashes, everyone wants to walk away unscathed.
The amount and type of safety equipment required for the various ODSS classes varies. Much of that depends on how quickly the eighth-mile (or quartermile) will be eclipsed. In classes that break the 7-second eighth-mile mark, a key safety component that must be installed is a rollbar or rollcage. The overall amount of cage work necessary depends on e.t.
The bare minimum for a truck competing in the Flo-Pro Performance Exhaust 6.70 Index Class is a rollbar (specified by NHRA guidelines). But trucks that run in Firepunk Diesel Outlaw 5.90 or quicker classes must have a specified full rollcage, and, in some instances, a complete chassis.
When building a cage, use the correct material, supports, and gussets that meet or exceed regulations. Tech inspection will be a breeze if it’s done right. I have heard stories about people who decided to try to cheat the system by using thinner-walled tubing and inferior materials or tried to cut corners to somehow save a few pounds. I ask you: Is a person’s wellbeing worth a couple of pounds? Big sanctions like the NHRA developed specific rules for a reason: to give people the best chance of walking away if something drastic does happen.
Even in the ODSS’s slower classes, where there are fewer regulations (Jamo Performance Exhaust E.T. Bracket and
ATS Diesel Performance/Diesel Power Magazine 7.70 Index), it never hurts to be conscious of what could happen on the track and take steps to be prepared. Having a rollbar or cage installed is never a bad thing, especially if the truck may eventually be modified to run in a quicker class. I understand these categories typically consist of a large number of (if not all) daily drivers, which may make having protective tubing running about the cab a bit awkward. The significant other might not like climbing over a door bar to get in and out of the truck.
Another safety item that’s good to have in any class is a fire extinguisher or suppression system, even if it is not required. Fire can be devastating to a vehicle or driver if it’s not properly dealt with.
At the Hardway Sunshine Showdown in September 2018, a 7.70 truck caught fire at the starting line. The driver took the green light and started down the track but pulled over as soon as he realized the problem. After quickly jumping out and seeing the flames, he began hollering for people to help because he didn’t have a way to put the fire out. Luckily, the flames didn’t really flare up and there was an extinguisher nearby that someone grabbed and used to quickly put the fire out.
But let’s say (worst-case scenario) he had gone further down the track and there wasn’t any type of fire-suppression device handy at the point where he stopped on the track. The distance would have prevented the fire crew from getting there before the flames really erupted, engulfing the truck. If the rig had an extinguisher or other type of suppression system onboard, the driver could have possibly dealt with the flames before things escalated or at least kept them under control until reinforcements arrived. It doesn’t take long for a flare-up on a vehicle to go from a single small flame to a roaring carbecue, especially on race vehicles where components and fluid temperatures can be highly elevated.
It doesn’t sound like much, but a simple squeeze-handle-type fire extinguisher in a convenient location (they don’t do any good if you can’t get to them) can make a huge difference when trying to subdue a small fire. Using dirty rags and T-shirts to snuff a flame isn’t quite as effective.
Keep racing, be safe, and remember: It never hurts to be prepared.
A rollbar with down bars through the back window meets requirements for the Outlaw Diesel Super Series Pro-Flo Performance Exhaust 6.70 Index Class, but it is a long way from what it takes to compete in SunCoast Diesel Transmissions Pro Mod, like the RLC Motorsports Ram. Because of the high speeds and things that can happen to a vehicle when traveling that fast, a Pro Mod rollcage is an elaborate cocoon of tubing meant to protect the racer.