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Wild Rides Require Responsibility

Posted By: Steve Baur
Written By Steve Baur
Photography by the Author and Kyle Miller

Ah, the dreaded safety upgrades. No one wants them until they need them. They don’t make the vehicle go quicker. If anything, they are a detriment to performance, but not always. A stiff chassis can make the suspension work better and allow for more accurate changes towards improvement. And, most importantly, it’ll potentially keep you safe in the unfortunate event of an accident. With this subject vehicle, trap speeds in excess of 150 mph called for a safety upgrade, and we turned to Wild Rides Race Cars (WRRC) to accomplish that.
It’s not uncommon to be able to make hundreds, if not thousands, of very steerable horsepower these days, and the turbocharged Modular engine in this 2004 Mach 1 Mustang does just that. Being that the car is still driven on the street, a roll cage was the last priority on owner Kyle Miller’s mind. But if you want to race at a sanctioned track, you’ll need the required safety equipment, and even Miller is smart enough to know that the speeds he’s achieving on track can be deadly in a crash situation, and it was time to step up and protect what is important.

With Miller’s Mach 1 already running in the 9s, the obvious choice for him was to skip the roll bar and head right to the roll cage, which would allow him to run as quick as 8.50 in the quarter-mile. The terms “roll bar” and “roll cage” are often misused/interchanged, but there is a distinct difference in both construction and the elapsed times for which they are approved.
Roll bars, quite simply, do not include any overhead structure beyond the main hoop that resides behind the seats and above your head. Roll cages, on the other hand, usually consist of an extensive overhead structure or halo that includes bars that extend forward from the main hoop and are supported by additional bars at the A-pillar locations that connect to the floor or chassis.
Roll bars, no matter how many points of contact they make with the chassis floor or frame, are only good to 10.00, while roll cages are approved down to 8.50. Of course, Wild Rides Race Cars does have options for those whose vehicles are quicker than 8.50. 
The next decision Miller had to make was the type of material that the cage is constructed from. Mild steel is often the choice of most budget-conscious enthusiasts, followed by Chromoly, as it’s thinner wall tubing offers a good bit of weight savings, albeit at a slightly higher price tag.
As you can see in this photo, Wild Rides Race Cars carefully marks each tube with the location and orientation of where it needs to be joined to the intersecting tube.

As you can see in this photo, Wild Rides Race Cars carefully marks each tube with the location and orientation of where it needs to be joined to the intersecting tube.

Wild Rides offers quality DOM mild steel tubing as the base option for its roll bars and cages, followed by 4130 Chromoly. Relatively new to the US market and now offered by Wild Rides is Docol R8 manufactured by SSAB of Sweden.
For those who haven’t heard of Docol R8 before, it is a high-strength, cold-rolled and seam-welded steel that has been used in production vehicles for years. More recently, it has been implemented in motorsports applications and has been endorsed by the SFI Foundation and approved by the NHRA.
One added benefit of Docol R8 is that the heat affected zone is close to the weld and combined with high ductility, it absorbs more energy and is more resistant to cracking in a crash situation. All of these great attributes come at a premium over Chromoly, however, when it comes time to check out.
In addition to price and weight, one other thing to consider when choosing the material is the installation technique. Mild steel can be MIG-welded, but per NHRA specifications, both Chromoly and Docol R8 needs to be TIG-welded. Factor that in should you not have the appropriate welder or skills.

Take note of the round markings that denote the location of the front and rear down bars.

If you’re unsure about what sort of roll bar or cage you might need, we highly recommend checking out Wild Rides Race Cars tech article HERE that goes into great detail about roll bar/cage terminology, requirements, materials, and more.
One more important point to note here is that Wild Rides Race Cars’ roll bars and cages specified for off-highway use. The products provide additional safety for on-track use, but having metal tubing coursing through the interior in a street car can be dangerous because most people don’t employ their racing harnesses or their helmets when cruising the roads. Factory seatbelts are designed to function slightly differently than racing harnesses, so it’s something to consider before making such a change to your street vehicle.
Miller surveyed the Wild Rides Race Cars website and chose the 1994-04 SN95 Mustang pre-fitted 8-point roll cage. Rather than go with the DOM .120-wall steel tubing, he opted to put his TIG-welding skills to the test and chose the 4130 .083-wall Chromoly option (Docol R8 wasn’t available at the time). 
Wild Ride’s 8-point cage features a continuous A-pillar bar that begins at the main roll hoop and doesn’t stop until it hits the floor. Options for the 8-point roll cage include straight or angled rear down bars (depending on whether or not you’re using a back seat), the behind-the-dash bar that connects the A-pillar bars, and door sill bars that run along the bottom of the door jamb from the main hoop to the A-pillar bar. Miller is keeping his stock dash and the HVAC system that resides behind it, as well as his rear seat, so he chose to omit the dash bar and go with the angled rear down bars.
As previously mentioned, this kit is “pre-fitted,” meaning that as the tubes are cut and bent, they are mocked up in the appropriate in-house chassis. At that point, the tubes are marked for orientation and easy assembly, and photos are taken to be sent to the customer for visual reference. This largely takes the guess work out of what goes where and at which angle this tube or that should be located.
Shipped to Miller’s home, the cage comes tack-welded together to ensure that nothing gets lost during shipping—sending heavy, pointy steel tubes in a carboard box and expecting it to arrive in its entirety is likely an exercise in futility, and Wild Rides definitely has a good system to ensure its customers receive everything they ordered.
With the parts on hand, Miller began the installation. Check out the photos and captions for additional information and tips.
Wild Rides Race Cars

Step one is to gut the interior. If it may be a while before you reassemble it, then you might want to bag and tag the fasteners and take photos to provide a visual reference later on.

With the seats and carpet out, Miller removed the dash next, and took the opportunity to perform some wiring clean up. The masking tape on the painted surfaces is also smart to prevent steel tubes and tools from scratching the paint during installation.

To facilitate welding the front down bars and front halo bar to the main roll hoop, Miller opted to drill holes in the floor and drop the tack-welded cage down through the floor. This also allowed him more room to paint the top of the cage and not have to tape up the headliner to protect it from overspray. Also, the factory sound deadening material has been removed so Miller can bring the floor to bare metal in preparation of welding the floor plates to the factory floor structure.

Here is a mock-up photo that Wild Rides includes with the roll cage kit. The company sends numerous images so you have a visual guide of where everything needs to go.

Here, you can see that Miller has utilized the aforementioned holes in the floor to drop the roll cage for welding and painting. Once those tasks are completed, you simply lift the cage up and set it on the included floor plates. You can subsequently weld the holes back up if you so desire.

One option that Wild Rides offers is this dashboard template that ensures you make the perfect cut to fit the dash precisely around the front down bar. Once you have completed one side, you simply flip it over for the opposite side.

Taking a look at the main hoop, you can see it is nicely tucked in behind the B-pillar and laid back just a bit to follow the body lines for a clean look.

As Miller’s car is still a street car, it retains its back seat among other stock interior components, so he opted for the angled rear down bars and no X-brace.

Here is the roll cage welded in its final resting position. The front down bars fit nicely through the dash and general fitment within the vehicle was spot on.

The door bars fit well around the Kirkey racing seats, as well as the factory door panels—the thinner tubing size of 8-point cage certainly helps with this. Though he didn’t opt for it at the time of ordering, Miller added a swing out option later on.

With the installation complete, Miller now only needs to have his new Wild Rides Race Cars roll cage certified and add the necessary roll bar padding before heading out on track in the safest of manners.


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