Cage Creation

Scott
Update by Scott Lear to the Mini Cooper S Club Racer project car
Apr 6, 2009

Our Recaro seat is only held in by two of its four mounting points, but that's sufficent for positioning the seat before the cage goes in.
Despite its small overall size, the MINI has gobs of interior space and headroom.
In the back, the Hard Dog cage ties in to the rear seat mounting pillars.
Bethania Garage has an elegant solution for the side impact assembly.
Mike Cline test fits a reinforcement for the side impact bars.
Chris Robinson checks the fitment of a reinforcement to triangulate the main hoop to the halo.
Mike is about the same height and build as GRM's Scott Lear, so he's the test-fit guinea pig for the seating position.

We wanted to make sure that we’d have superior protection.

Our MINI Cooper S was originally set up to promote the MINI Cup racing series, so it came to us with a simple, six-point bolt-in cage. Before we put the car in a wheel-to-wheel racing situation in the NASA Performance Touring category, we wanted to make sure that we’d have superior protection. That meant installing a fully welded cage.

Bethania Garage in North Carolina was eager to take the job, as it would allow Tom Beroth and his team to build a jig and add the MINI Cooper to their list of Hard Dog Fabrication roll cages. The shop currently sells prefab cages for the Mazda Miata, Honda S2000, BMW Z3 and Toyota MR2 Spyder, but they also do custom work for cars like our MINI.

Before we sent the car to Bethania Garage, we wanted to test fit and temporarily mount our Recaro Profi XL seat. This step ensured that the harness bar and side impact bars would be situated relative to our driver’s seating position.

It would have been nice if the Recaro seat’s simple side brackets bolted up to the MINI’s OEM seat mounting holes but, as is often the case when installing seats, this was wishful thinking. We had to settle for a match of two out of four; we used the two inboard mounting holes to position the seat.

Since the outboard side rail was about an inch clear of the MINI’s outboard mounting holes, we needed to figure out a way to clamp it down. Some big washers helped us stabilize the left side of the Recaro using the stock mounting holes. While this setup would work for placement purposes, we still need to do some work to properly secure the seat’s left rail.

Since we’ll be racing in the 2501- to 3000-pound range, Bethania Garage is fabricating our cage out of 1.5x0.120-inch seamless mild steel (DOM) to meet the rules set forth by the NASA CCR. The cage is coming along nicely, and we hope to have the car back in a couple of weeks so we can paint it, dyno it, sort out the details of our Performance Touring class, and make our road racing debut with the car. The anticipation is building rapidly.

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