In a long race, like the 25 Hours of Thunderhill, you don’t want your expensive lights exposed during daylight hours when they aren’t needed. This pile of broken bumper and leftover Lightforce lights is what was left after a daytime crash.

Anyone who has raced at night can tell you how important a good set of lights is. If you can’t see where you’re going, then you can’t be fast.

So we all agree good lights are an absolute must. But a lot of endurance races start during the day and finish at night. During the daytime you don’t need headlights, and having large, expensive auxiliary lights hanging off the front of your car during aggressive daytime racing does two things. One, it makes your car less aerodynamic and, two, it exposes your expensive lights to potential damage.

While racing in the daytime, you don’t need large unaerodynamic lights exposed to potential damage. You can see the wire for the lights is ready to be plugged in, and the two light bar mounting rods sticking out of the front bumper are hardly noticeable.
While racing in the daytime, you don’t need large unaerodynamic lights exposed to potential damage. You can see the wire for the lights is ready to be plugged in, and the two light bar mounting rods sticking out of the front bumper are hardly noticeable.

When I talk about damage, unfortunately I speak from experience. During the 25 Hours of Thunderhill race, my team had the entire front of our car knocked off, including our Lightforce HID lights, about 10 minutes before sunset. It was a bummer and completely unnecessary since up to that point in the race we hadn’t even turned the lights on. When it got real dark at Thunderhill, our lights were in an expensive pile of parts in the paddock.

As a result of that incident, we came up with a removable light bar setup, which works great. During the day, our car runs mean and lean, and then just before the sun goes down, we pit for fuel, a driver swap, and add a front light bar setup for night racing.

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The quick off-and-on system is simple. The Lightforce lights are mounted to a bar, which has two pieces of vertical square stock metal, just a bit larger than two fixed rods attached to the front bumper. Two removable pins go through the square stock and the rods to hold the light bar in place. A simple trailer wire connector provides the 12-volt power, and the whole system can be installed during a pit stop in about five seconds.

You can see the trailer wire plug setup and the two rods sticking up through the bumper for the square stock of the light bar to slide down. The hole at the top of the rod is where the removable pin is placed for quick installation or removal.
You can see the trailer wire plug setup and the two rods sticking up through the bumper for the square stock of the light bar to slide down. The hole at the top of the rod is where the removable pin is placed for quick installation or removal.

With this setup, you can use the chrome horn during the day, add the lights for darkness and then drive with a touch more following distance and care. If it all works like it should, your lights will be the first ones to illuminate the checkered flag.

Drop the light bar on the two rods, install the pins, plug in the wire and “then there was light!” You are ready to race at night, especially since your lights were unharmed during aggressive daytime racing.
Drop the light bar on the two rods, install the pins, plug in the wire and “then there was light!” You are ready to race at night, especially since your lights were unharmed during aggressive daytime racing.

We have to give credit to Shawn Sampson of Sampson Racing Communications, who we stole this setup idea from, A.J. Gracy from Performance In-Frame Tuning, who welded and wired the light bar, and Lightforce Australia for its rugged and bright HID lights.

You can’t go fast if you can’t see where you’re going. Any endurance racer will tell you good lights are paramount for night racing.
You can’t go fast if you can’t see where you’re going. Any endurance racer will tell you good lights are paramount for night racing.
Images courtesy of Rob Krider and VanHap Photography

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