wspohn : Not aimed at the original poster, who simply advanced a question, but I do laugh when I see people who stick bars in their cars and then pronounce authoritatively that they 'are better than nothing' as if they were structural engineers.
I have discussed this issue with some fellow racers who do happen to be engineers and car builders, and they have told me that many of the gut feelings of laymen are way off the mark and that bars built to anything other than proper principals are often more dangerous than no bar at all.
Every time I see someone say "You can't tell me that my bar wouldn't be better than nothing at all!" I hope that someone else will jump in and tell them exactly that as I tire of these discussions, but am reluctant to leave it unsaid for fear that some newbie will search roll bars some day and see a thread ending without a caution on improperly built bars and will go off thinking they are safe with whatever they cobble together.
Good points Bill. As an engineer I couldn't agree more.
Of course, the question is often not 'What will save my life?', but 'What is the minimum I can do, even resorting to fooling the organizers, that will let me get out on that track?"
I think we have to look at this from another perspective. Every day we drive our cars on twisty back roads, frequently at supra-legal speeds. No roll bars, helmets or other safety gear is required. And we don't really worry about it. A lapping day at a track is, arguably, much safer than a high-speed run on the back roads, but we are required to have a roll bar (etc) to do it. Clearly it is mainly about liability for the track and event organizers, so there is an understandable level of frustration on the part of the person who just wants to go out and run the track. Wheel-to-wheel racing is an entirely different subject, by the way.
I believe that you should be allowed to do just about anything that doesn't endanger someone else, as long as you are willing to be responsible for the results of your own actions. You. Not the track. Not the organizers. Not your insurance company. Not society.
Don't want to wear a seat belt ? Fine. But be prepared to pay your own medical bills out of your own pocket if you crash.
Don't want to wear a motorcycle helmet ? Ditto.