When I decided to make the move into Super Stock, one of the first things I was aware of was upgrading my safety gear to comply with ANDRA rules for vehicles faster than 7.50 seconds.
On the vehicle side of things Jerry Haas Race Cars took care of the chassis which is built to comply with SFI standard 25.1E. Jerry also fitted a 5Lb fire system that is plumbed into the engine bay and drivers compartment, just in case.
ANDRA rules state, that a Neck Collar is required in all vehicles quicker than 7.50 seconds (1/4 mile) or 4.90 seconds (1/8 mile) and the use of proprietary head and neck restraint systems are permitted where the device meets SFI 38.1
While the GXP was being built at JHRC I ordered a plain old donut that wraps around your neck and fits between the helmet and your shoulders. In an accident the donut or collar is supposed to support the helmet by limiting movement of the helmet. However, once I put it on I noticed that there was very little, if any support and I could tilt my head sideways with the helmet on and still easily look down towards the seat buckle. Straight away I knew that it didn't offer the support I would need in an accident, although it does meet the rules. The collar for me was also a bit uncomfortable as getting the correct tension on the Velcro strap always seemed to take two or three goes to get right.
Like all drag racing tragic's I watch the NHRA races on ESPN and took a lot of notice at the Head and Neck systems that the Pro Stock drivers are using. A quick search on Google revealed that there are a number of different versions around and if you read some of the reviews there are some that aren't as user friendly (getting in and out of the car) or comfortable (fit on your shoulders). Some of the brands have no adjustment and you need to buy one to suit the size of your neck and the angle of seating position in the car. Some have minimal adjustment and others can be adjusted for seat angle and helmet movement.
Price is also another significant factor for me and with some of the devices going for over $1,000. I wanted to make sure it was the right one before handing over my hard earned.
www.necksgen.com) Once I got home from the meeting I started looking into the NecksGen head and neck supports and was interested to find that they are fully adjustable and appear to have excellent padding around the shoulders and importantly very competitively priced.Mark Hinchelwood is a new member of the Victorian Drag Racers Club as he has recently moved to Melbourne and opened a branch of his Motorsport Connections business in Moorabbin. Mark and I were talking about Head and Neck supports and the limitations of certain brands and he mentioned that he is now stocking a brand called NecksGen. (
After checking out its credentials I asked mark to bring one to the next VDRC meeting where we could fit it to the helmet and give other members the opportunity to see the unit up close.
Fitment of the NecksGen is very straightforward, especially on the latest SA2010 helmets as they come pre-drilled for head and neck support mounts. Earlier helmets may not have the holes in the shell and using the instructions that come with the unit you will be able to drill them in the correct spot.
Another interesting feature of the latest Simpson helmet is there was no glue on the padding and liner inside the helmet around the mounting hole, so sliding the nut up inside the helmet to find the hole was very easy. I had seen a tutorial video on YouTube for fitting the mounts to an older helmet and it was quite difficult to slide the nut up in between the shell and padding.
The NecksGen head and neck support is packaged in its own padded carry bag and comes complete with all tools and fittings as well as some stickers and a nice one size fits all cap. There are a couple of allen keys and some alternative fittings to permanently mount the unit to your helmet, or the quick release fittings that I chose to use. They even give you a small tube of Loctite to make sure the nuts never come loose!
Fitment is as easy as removing the plastic cover to gain access to the mounting bolt, being careful not to lose the little spring when you pull the cover off. Slide the nut up inside the helmet using the supplied spanner and tighten it up. Keep an eye on the fitting to ensure it is straight, or parallel with the bottom skirt of the helmet as I did mine. Replace the spring and cover and move onto the other side.
Once the mounts are on the helmet you can jump into the car and adjust it to fit. A quick measurement of the seat angle showed that the NecksGen angle from the factory was ok so all I needed to do was adjust the straps to limit helmet movement forward which is covered in the instructions and very easy to do.
Clipping the belts into the shoulder supports and clipping the fittings into the helmet takes some practice if you're doing it by yourself in the car and it is easier with someone there to assist. I am unable to climb into my car with my helmet on so I have to put it on once I am in the car. Open vehicle drivers might prefer to get their helmets on and fit the NecksGen before they get into the cars making fitting even easier.
One thing I did notice is you can feel the downwards pressure of the NecksGen on your shoulders as the belts tighten and pull it down when you strap yourself in. There was no discomfort around my neck like the donut and I retained about 90% of my rotational head movement which was now limited by the straps tied onto the helmet. More often than not I am the faster car in Super Stock and during eliminations I don't need to be looking over my shoulder at the other car so the limit there is not a problem.
The biggest improvement over the donut I found was that I could not move my head forward or look down at the belts. This is the big benefit of the head and neck restraints, limiting head movement and damage to the neck in an accident.
So while I haven't driven the GXP while wearing the NecksGen head and neck support, I have spent quite some time in the seat with it on getting familiar with the feel and knowing the process for getting it clipped in and un clipped at the end of a pass. I am looking forward to trying it out in a couple of week's time at the track!
Work on the new engine for the GXP is nearing completion down at Custom Engines with only a few parts needed to get it finished. All going well I hope to test the week before the Nationals as everything on the car has changed. New engine, new converters, freshened transmission and new diff ratios is going to make for an interesting first meeting in the car!
Special thanks to Mark Hinchelwood from Motorsport Connections for putting me onto the NecksGen head and neck support and the box of Speedflow hose and fittings I am using to plumb the new engine.
I would like to thank the following people for their on going support;
- Peter Ridgeway and Arthur Sagiaris (Custom Engines).
- Neil Hendry at Cryogen Industries
- Nick Xerakias (ERC Fuel)
- The A-Team crew: Paul Rogers Snr and Matt Ramsay.