Letter to the STAC: In support of requiring air bag steering wheels and seats

I’m writing in support of the proposed changes to steering wheels and seats for Street Touring.

I believe these changes, however painful they may be in the short term, are better for the class that bills itself as the home for daily driven modified cars. And as seats are becoming more and more integrated into cars in terms of occupant safety and vehicle features, thinking ahead 10 years into the future, replacing seats will likely be an unviable option.

I’m sure that there will be plenty of letters pleading for seats along the lines of “if you don’t want to have race seats, you don’t have to install them in your car.” And they’d be right. However, in terms of class intent, it would be in our benefit to reel in seat allowances and align with the class mission, which considers safety and emissions (even if that aspect is still a bit imperfect) compliance that Street Prepared and Street Mod don’t worry about at all.

Hell, perhaps drawing the line at airbag seats and airbag wheels might create some separation and some breathing room between Street Touring and Street Prepared.

This is brave action that should be lauded, in my opinion. I think that Street Prepared, once relevant for cars primarily built in the 80s and 90s, lost relevance as new cars came about, and new expectations for what are reasonable modifications for such cars should be. ST as of right now is perfect for cars built in the 2000s and 2010s, but probably wouldn’t be relevant as-is for cars built in the 2020s and beyond. Back when airbags were few in number in a car and the car was designed around that fact, perhaps people were comfortable replacing an air bag seat or an air bag steering wheel. Now, with steering wheels now serving as even denser vehicle control interfaces than ever before and seats becoming an ever more integrated part of a vehicle’s safety system, we should do what we can to reign in the temptations to ensure that ST of the future isn’t held back by the ST paradigms of the present.

To put it bluntly, I appreciate that we’re taking proactive action to ensure that ST changes with the times and doesn’t suffer a slow decline along the lines of SP.

As written, I think the proposed changes are fine. Count this as another vote for the proposal as written, even if it means that I have to take the race bucket out of my STR Miata.

John Li