The proper seating position means less fatigue and a greater focus on driving
Racing drivers and car builders spend a lot of time obsessing over seating position. For some, it’s about comfort and control. For others, it’s about getting the center of gravity as low as possible. And safety is always paramount. It may seem like a small thing, especially for sprint racers, but the wrong seating position can be a big problem.
“You have to be comfortable in the car, because if you don’t have support, you get tired really quickly,” explains Harry Tincknell, driver of the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship. “The G-forces take over, and if you’re not supported enough in the car, your neck is going to be exhausted. I always find that unless I’m fully focused on the driving, I’m not quick. So if I’m worried that I’m getting tired, or I’m thirsty or hot or trying to hold myself in the seat, I’m not going to be fast. You have to do everything you can to be able to focus your mind fully on the driving and not have to worry about the seat or anything like that. It’s very important to get it right.”
It’s not just racers and race car builders, though, that obsess over seating position. Mazda’s OEM engineers do as well, and that’s something that can easily be seen in the new Mazda3. The desire was to create a feeling of connection between car and driver, what Mazda refers to as jinba attai, the symbiotic relationship between horse and rider. Mazda engineers closely studied human physiology and movement and built the seat and driving position to put the body in the most natural S-shaped curve of the spine to react to movements of the car. It’s a concept that Danny Bender, who both sells and races Mazdas, fully understands and embraces.
“In a race car, everybody is going to sit a little bit different; but the goal is to kind of feel one with the car and feel balanced in it,” says Bender, who recently won a pair of races in Touring 3 at the SCCA June Sprints at Road America a week before reaching the podium in Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich at the same track in the same car.
“The idea in a race car is that you’re trying to feel the car, and the more feel you have for the car, the better you can control it around the track,” he explains. “You usually try to sit balanced in between the steering wheel and pedals where it feels the most comfortable. The engineers at Mazda can probably give you a six hour seminar about why they did what they did for the seating position and the seat itself, but what they focused on is trying to align the driver in the best seating position possible where you really do feel one with the car.”