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.
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.
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.
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.
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.