Are you frickin’ kidding me? C’mon, this sport is nuts. What kind of person would challenge the odds of completing three hours of suicide crossings at more than 100mph? Jesse James would, along with 31 other crazy drivers. While Jesse has done this kinda thing before, the guys he competes against are seasoned veterans of the Figure 8 racing course. Arguably one of the most dangerous forms of racing, Figure 8 (or Gap Shoot Racing) is pure adrenaline-charged fury that very few people would even consider attempting. But it is just the sort of thing that Jesse needs to add to his list of crazy stunts?
Think this stuff is staged? Think again. Think these guys are going to take it easy on Jesse? Think again. No real racing warrior would want the West Coast Chopper King taking them out at their own game. The name of the game is racing and while it may look like a demolition derby, it is anything but that. Racers don’t want to hit one another; they are trying to avoid it. At 100 plus miles per hour, a glancing impact is going to put a hurt on you at the very least, and a head on collision could land you in far worse shape. During the three hour time period competitors will cross paths several hundred times with two gaps to shoot every lap. While Kenny St. John’s world record of 512 laps will likely go unchallenged, it is definite that Jesse will have to avoid more then 400 or more crossings against several cars at a time. With enough space between his car and the next that a credit card would have a tough time sliding through, Jesse will have to use split second timing and instinct to avoid crashing and bailing out early. Talk about a tight squeeze.
Impacts are inevitable and Jesse will have his hands full as he tries to avoid collisions that could reach 30 Gs or more. To test the power of a high speed impact, we created a scenario on a test track where Jesse drove a moving car into a parked car. We instrumented both cars and Jesse with accelerometers and found some startling results. If a crash occurred at 120mph (a max speed which could be attained in Gap Racing) the car impact would hit with an initial force of over 100,000lbs, with half being absorbed instantly by the car bodies crumpling. Over the next several 100ths a second, Jesse would have to bear nearly 10,000lbs of dissipated force from the impact and withstand his own body reaching almost 30 Gs. His head, although locked in place for this test, could exceed forces that his helmet would protect from splitting wide open, but not stop a concussion and blackout. Fortunately, most impacts are glancing blows, but anything is possible on a closed course with 31 other guys gunning for victory. Although protective gear, roll cages and special harnesses are all part of the preparation, pride can be reduced instantly if Jesse’s rig ends up like mashed potatoes.