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Racing allowed w/ targa top off, headroom issues..

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Hi all,

I'm seriously considering buying an NSX, but tonight I sat in one for the first time and found I had headroom issues. I'm close to 6'2", & couldn't really find a position where my hair wasn't pressed up against the roof. If I sat really "straight" (good posture), the top of my head would lightly press against the roof.

Those who are tight on head room may find this interesting (if you haven't spotted references to this in the FAQs yet)- the Acura dealer I went to demonstrated how much padding is at the bottom of an NSX seat-- about 2". They pulled the seat away to expose the metal bottom to demonstrate. They said they have a upholstry guy they send customers to who professionally re-works the seat and reduces the foam. The guy "guarantees" 1.5" of additional headroom (while still keeping enough foam at the bottom to protect your butt).

Here's the rub. For me, that would likely give me enough headroom for regular daily driving. But I'm only going to buy this car if I can race it on the weekends (Willow Springs, etc), and that 1.5" isn't likely to give me the headroom I'd need to wear a helmet. I brought my helmet to the dealership and I really had to squash down to wear it inside the car.

Ok, here's the two questions I'm hoping someone can answer:

1) What's the typical policy adopted by race tracks with regards to cars with targa tops? Can you race "open", with the targa roof removed? If so, the 1.5" foam reduction would serve for the street, and for racing I could wear a helmet with the top off the car.

2) How much would racing with a targa top off impact performance? Would it cause significant drag at high speeds? Upset the balance of the car? Etc?

Perhaps a custom "targa top" could be made which is a "shell" I could bolt on for the aerodynamics/closed cockpit, but which wouldn't have the headliner material & would then potentially have enough clearance for a helmet?

I'm really interested in buying and racing an NSX.. I'm hopeful a way can be figured out to make me fit
smile.gif


Thanks-
Marc
 
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Originally posted by SpeedDemon:
Hi all,

Here's the rub. For me, that would likely give me enough headroom for regular daily driving. But I'm only going to buy this car if I can race it on the weekends (Willow Springs, etc), and that 1.5" isn't likely to give me the headroom I'd need to wear a helmet. I brought my helmet to the dealership and I really had to squash down to wear it inside the car.

Ok, here's the two questions I'm hoping someone can answer:

1) What's the typical policy adopted by race tracks with regards to cars with targa tops? Can you race "open", with the targa roof removed? If so, the 1.5" foam reduction would serve for the street, and for racing I could wear a helmet with the top off the car.

2) How much would racing with a targa top off impact performance? Would it cause significant drag at high speeds? Upset the balance of the car? Etc?

Perhaps a custom "targa top" could be made which is a "shell" I could bolt on for the aerodynamics/closed cockpit, but which wouldn't have the headliner material & would then potentially have enough clearance for a helmet?

I'm really interested in buying and racing an NSX.. I'm hopeful a way can be figured out to make me fit
smile.gif


Thanks-
Marc

1) I have seen some tracks/sanctioning bodys allow it.. and some havent. I dont think you should plan on running with the top off.

2) For performace, it couldnt do anything except hinder it.. which is the main reason i think you should leave it on. You mentioned willow springs, i would NOT want to run through turn 8 at 130+ mph with any setup that may make the car unstable at high speed!
smile.gif



Things you may want to look into:

There is a modification (as you mentioned, altho you can do it yourself) that will remove some of the padding from the stock seat.

You can install a race seat, this will give you more headroom. But you lose the adjustibility.. if your the only person driving the car this is probably ok.

Also.. im not sure about on the targa models, but on the coupes... above the drivers head, the cabin roof is recessed a little bit.. you can see where the factory bracing/cage is.. as it protrudes a little from the roof... does the targa have this? Or is this a coupe only design? If its coupe only.. maybe you should look for one of those for another inch or so of headroom.

Just as a data point, im 6ft and ran my 91 with a helmet/harness/rollbar without any issues... stock seats, no foam mods.

-mike

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Originally posted by mikeh:

Also.. im not sure about on the targa models, but on the coupes... above the drivers head, the cabin roof is recessed a little bit.. you can see where the factory bracing/cage is.. as it protrudes a little from the roof... does the targa have this? Or is this a coupe only design? If its coupe only.. maybe you should look for one of those for another inch or so of headroom.

Thanks for the response Mike.

I think I know what you're referring to regarding the rollbar, and yes, the roof line drops lower on the targa behind the driver's head, where the rollbar is, but then raises back up again from that point forward. Per the NSX salesman (who actually seemed knowledgeable) the Targa isn't supposed to have any difference in head room vs. the coupe. Good line of thinking though.

The stock seat seems pretty darn low to the floor, so if I have the 1.5" of foam removed from the factory seat I'm not sure much would be gained from going to a racing seat. (?)

- Does anyone have any experience with pulling apart a targa top? Is there headliner material that could be removed, or could the targa roof otherwise be modified to really make it a "shell"? Again, this would just be for racing with a helmet. For daily driving I'd use a standard targa top to protect my head (which wouldn't need as much headroom since I wouldn't be wearing a helmet)
smile.gif


I wonder if there's a shop that could make a targa top with a "helmet bubble" at a cost that isn't absurd?
smile.gif


There's only 1 other line of thinking I can come up with to increase headroom for racing.. Is there such thing as a low profile racing helmet that is Snell 95 etc approved? Perhaps there's something out there with more clearance than my current helmet (A CJ10 if memory serves. A standard $140 job...)

I'm trying so hard to make this work - would love to buy an NSX. I have a deposit down on a new E46 M3 for whenever they come out, but it seems so much like a big family cruiser on the inside, I'm worried I just won't find the car that exciting, and that few people would even notice the difference between the M3 and the oodles of E46 323's and 328's that are already found around So.Cal.

-Marc
 
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Originally posted by SpeedDemon:
1) What's the typical policy adopted by race tracks with regards to cars with targa tops? Can you race "open", with the targa roof removed? If so, the 1.5" foam reduction would serve for the street, and for racing I could wear a helmet with the top off the car.

Well, let me put your mind at ease on a number of fronts. First off, I am 6'-4" and I decided not to buy a 1999 NSX because at first I felt the same way you did about to enough room. Then I was in LA for a week and rented a 1996 NSX-T from Beverly Hills Auto Rental and found that the more time I spent with the car, the more I was able to find just the right position.

As far as track events, I am a Member of VIR Club at Virginia International Raceway and they will allow you to run with the top out, and I do so on a regular basis. I have not found any difficulty or any issues of adverse effect on handling. I think most of the perceived difference is psychological. Many of the other Driving School Events and even driving schools WILL allow you to run with the top out. If the event is timed or is a competative event, you will naturally want to have it in for safety sake in case you are in a roll over.

2) How much would racing with a targa top off impact performance? Would it cause significant drag at high speeds? Upset the balance of the car? Etc?

I think this worry about "upsetting the balance of the car" is all crap. The other comment about going into turn 8 at Willow Springs at 130mph, seems to assume that you will somehow not be using the brakes to slow you down and transfer 2+G to the car as you try to corner as if you are on rails. The back straight at VIR is 4,000 ft long all uphill. I can rountinely hit 130+ or even 140mph on it before braking to 70mph or so for the down hill parts at turns 14,15 and 16. The front straight there is 3,000 ft long with a dog leg in it and 120+ to 130mph is typical with having to bring the car all the way back down to under 60 to hit the really tight turn 1.

I have run with the top in and the top out. I have run with TCS on and off. The car seems to perform very much the same with almost any setting and mode. I just don't accept the fact that Honda Engineers would have gone to all the trouble to make a Targa version of the Ultimate Exotic and not factor in enough chassis stiffness to allow the car to be driven as it was intended to be... FAST! TOP IN OR TOP OUT!

Buy the car, have the seat modified, spend some time with the car and learn to love it as we all have. If you are planning SCCA Solo II class racing events for competition, I would suggest a coupe for no other reason than better safety and slightly more headroom. But for Track events, Driving Schools and other such "recreational" activities, nothing beats being able to take the top out and get a tan.
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Gordon G. Miller, III
Y2K NSX #51 Yellow/Black
 
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