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
Macdonald (right) 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
- see image right.
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.
Macdonald 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.
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 Bald Spot Sport website. However, RML is
representing the company in Europe, so enquiries in the
first instance to RML - +44 1933 402440
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