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Safety

The safety cage in your production car is hidden beneath interior comfort features that race cars simply don't have.

Frank Whitney/Getty Images

Car racing is all about blistering speed, gutsy driving, unlimited power, and -- the most advanced safety equipment in the world? It's true. Because car racing demands extreme performance, it also demands extreme safety. Luckily, for those of us who aren't race car drivers, that safety technology is also deeply ingrained into our everyday cars. In fact, it's so closely tied together that you might not even associate it with car racing at all.

The most important piece of safety technology is one you can't even see. All race cars are built around a structure that protects the driver. In open wheel racing -- like Indy Car racing or Formula One racing -- the car's body is made of strong carbon fiber, designed to protect the driver during an impact. In NASCAR and drag racing, a roll cage protects the driver. The roll cage is a network of steel tubes that absorbs impacts, protecting the driver. The same principles that go into NASCAR roll cages go into production car safety cages. Production car safety cages are well-hidden beneath the carpet, headliner material, door trim and other interior features that race cars simply don't have.

Want to know one more everyday safety feature that came from racing? It's a component that every car has, but you probably wouldn't expect that it has a race car origin: Your car's rearview mirror. In the early 1900s race car drivers discovered that they could use mirrors to spot the competition approaching behind them. Ever since, rearview mirrors have become an invaluable safety tool for millions of drivers. It's a pretty ho-hum piece of car tech, but like a lot of everyday car technology, it has a racing pedigree.

For more information about racing, applied racing technology and racing related topics, follow the links on the next page.

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