Revolutionary New Creafoam Seat for RML MG Lola
While the RML team was at Snetterton yesterday (March 24) for the
final shakedown of the MG Lola EX264 ahead of the official Paul
Ricard test next week, a fair amount of time was devoted to sorting
out the seating positions for the drivers.
Macdonald of the intriguingly named “Bald Spot Sports”
organisation had flown in especially from the States to assist.
His company is responsible for developing a totally new seating
infill procedure that will see RML’s MG Lola as one of the
first applications of the product outside American single-seater
racing. Widely used in IRL and Champcar, and imminently under test
for use in F1 from next season, the technique is far removed from
the familiar two-part foam and a bin-liner method that will have
warmed the bottoms of many British racing drivers over the years.
This is a granular
system called Creafoam, that is vacuum fitted to the driver. It
takes a little longer to set off, allowing the technicians to achieve
a near-perfect fit on the first attempt - without the associated
heat and discomfort. That’s just the start, however. After
some further fittings and adjustment, the prototype seat (that now
conforms perfectly to the contours of the driver) is scanned into
a computer as a 3D virtual model, and then the final seat is carved
from a single block of higher density multiple-impact Creafoam.
The area of
the new seat at the back, from shoulders down to the base of the
driver’s spine, where the greatest forces are usually concentrated
during any (hopefully unlikely) impact, is then removed, and replaced
with a “plug” of special single-impact foam that can
be removed and replaced after an accident, but it’s very clever
stuff . . .
is the truly significant difference between old and new systems
- the way they behave in the event of an accident. The old fashioned
foam is very rigid, and offers little cushioning effect on impact.
Intense levels of G are generated when a racing car hits the barriers,
with readings as high as 80 G having been recorded in exceptional
circumstances. While there’s no rattling around like a stone
in a tin can with the old system, all those forces are still transferred
straight through to the driver, resulting in possible broken bones
and the likelihood of internal injury. The new foam responds very
differently. During normal racing, when G forces are applied gradually
and progressively as the car corners, accelerates or brakes, the
infill is rigid and firm, much as is the case with the old two-pack
material. In the event of an accident, however, when G forces suddenly
increase dramatically, the results are very different. In itself,
the multiple impact foam that forms the bulk of the seat is proven
to be significantly more effective at absorbing the loads of impact,
and also better at preventing intrusion from panels and mechanical
parts, but that’s just the start. It’s the ‘plug’
that makes the revolutionary contribution. The whole structure of
the material changes on impact, absorbing and dissipating the G
forces progressively, cushioning the blow. Tested in situations
– real and laboratory – up to 75 G, the Creafoam system
works so well that it looks set to become the approved system throughout
the top levels of motorsport in the coming seasons.
with the Creafoam seating system, BSS has also developed a seat-belt
cushioning technology that is equally revolutionary. Positioned
between the conventional webbing and the driver’s shoulders
is a strap that looks like glorified bubblewrap. Each bubble is
not filled with air, but a putty-like substance that feels a bit
like plasticine. Hit it hard, however, and it instantly changes
into something with the consistency of soft toothpaste.
demonstrated this by placing a strip, about one centimeter thick,
onto the concrete floor of the Snetterton garage. He then proceeded
to punch this, very hard, with his knuckled fist. He didn’t
even wince, although it looked as though he ought to have been in
excruciating pain. Impressive stuff.
BSS is now starting
to supply to the UK, so anyone else looking for an effective seat
and safety system can find out more by checking the website at www.baldspotsports.com.
RML will be representing the company in Europe, so first enquiries
to RML - +44 1933 402440