Safety Second: Project Apex Gets Fitted With Caution

Back in the days of Project Boosted Coyote, its owner, Ivan Korda, spent more time in flip flops and board shorts racing his 1,200-horsepower Mustang than actual racing gear. Since then, Ivan has developed an appreciation for life and realized that being safe in a car is extremely important. Especially when that car is being tossed around a road course. After we prepped the Cobra for track duty, it was time for Project Apex to have a larger safety net than the factory lap belts could provide. After all, sliding around a cockpit through a chicane section in the New Edge is not on our docket of fun.

While most people think of safety last, as Ivan has done in the past, this time would be different. Before we even began to baseline tune the chassis, we wanted to make sure the car was adequately prepared to keep our butts in the seat and our bodies contained. This would bring us to a few key products, including seats, seat rails, steering wheel, harness, and roll bar.

Science Of Safety With MOMO

If you have ever driven a car on a road course, you quickly realize just how important a restraint system can be. While factory seats are based on comfort, with some side bolster support, and the seat belts are DOT-legal, they are far from adequate in a race application. This is not only a safety deficiency, but results in a break in concentration for the driver, who begins to focus on body position rather than maintaining attention on the track. To resolve this dilemma, we resorted to a complete MOMO interior to keep us planted and our undivided attention on the track.

For the price of a set of used New Edge Cobra seats, we managed to get a matching pair of MOMO Daytona EVOs, in American sizing. The EVO model takes the original Daytona seat up a notch with additional padding and better airflow design through the coverings on the back cushions. This will be perfect for those hot summer track days at Barber Motorsports.

Project Apex

To increase safety, the Daytona EVOs side head bolsters limit lateral movement of the helmet and are upholstered in fire-retardant black fabric. Since fire is one of the biggest fears of any road racer, this calms the nerves knowing MOMO has already thought this one through.

As safety has taken a center stage of this article, we’re still weight weenies at heart and had to bust out the scale to weigh the stock seats versus our new safety seats. The results were astounding, as the Cobra’s passenger seat tipped the scales at 42.9 pounds, and the driver’s side at 60.1 pounds! Meanwhile, our weight-conscious seats came in at 27.3 pounds each. That’s a total savings of 48.4 pounds before we started to remove the associated trim with the originals.

Say what you want about being a weight weenie, We're all for trimming 48.4 pounds off any vehicle!

Ivan claims to be around 6 feet, 2 inches tall, which means we had to be careful about which seat brackets we would be using. The combination of his height, plus an additional few inches of helmet room left us with a Planted Engineering bottom mount to be paired with the MOMO seat bracket. The option to fabricate a lower seat mount was feasible, but left us grasping for straws with only a minimal drop.

To complete the safety restraint system, we locked in a set of MOMO SR6 series six-point harnesses. These professional harnesses are compatible with HANS devices, and still allow us to utilize MOMO’s advanced aluminum active speed adjusters in the future. MOMO has taken the science of safety much further than I can dissect in one article, but a quick summary is the 2-inch lap belts improve pelvic containment, but also faster loading of the lap belt. In turn, this reduces the impact on the chest. Meanwhile, the camlock design allows easy driver swap if we decide to subject ourselves to a long day of endurance racing.

The steering wheel is the ultimate connection between driver and vehicle. We decided to queue up the aesthetics of this primary point of contact with a MOMO Prototipo Black Edition wheel. If the MOMO logo was not printed on our steering wheel, I would have assumed Jesus took the wheel and donated it towards Project Apex. The feel, look, and ergonomics of the wheel enhances the overall driving experience. The steering wheel came complete with black spokes, black cross stitching, and even a black MOMO logo.

Project Apex

The main piece that connects human and vehicle. This MOMO steering wheel was the perfect addition to the interior of MOMO themed safety setup.

Rolling With Maximum Motorsports

The goal of safety is to be prepared in the off-chance something does go wrong. Stealing a slogan from the motorcycle industry, “dress for the slide, not the ride,” we decided to partake in making sure any slide we did on our lid, would be fully covered by a roll bar. For this, we sought the expertise of Maximum Motorsports’ 30 years experience in the Mustang market.

Project Apex

A roll bar is much more than cheap insurance, it can protect occupants in the case of a rollover and provides structural rigidity to the chassis.

Maximum Motorsports has been around since 1992, and they know their way around the suspension, safety, and drivetrain of most Mustang models. The roll bar arrived and included instructions on how to insert it into the cabin and bolt it up. This pre-built rollbar allowes us to avoid having to hire a fabricator, and we were left with just sending it to powder coating before install.

We knew we would be acquiring more weight, as the roll bar is not a replacement for any OE part. However, when placed on the scales, the tubular cabin saver churned out a measly 59.6 pounds. While we could have kept our factory interior pieces with this rollbar, our goal with Project Apex is to shave weight and shred tracks. The plastic panels, carpeting, and rear seats came out to 54.9 pounds. The offset of safety was well worth the 4.7-pound tradeoff!

 

Safety Meeting Adjourned

Now that we have addressed safety for our road racing adventure, we can finally move our thoughts out of safety and onto the next step. Stick around as in the next episode we’ll be shifting gears into a whole new dimension with Project Apex.

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About the author

James Elkins

Born into a household of motorsport lovers, James learned that wrenching takes priority over broken skin and damaged nerves. Passions include fixing previous owners’ mistakes, writing, and driving.
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