MATT RAY of BSCI is busier than the proverbial one-arm paper hanger on Thursday before the three-day Rolex Series Daytona Test Days, now known as the Roar Before The 24. Ray makes seats and inserts, especially the latter this day. This year the Grand-Am Rolex Series Sports Car Series Presented by Crown Royal Cask No.16 will be running the 49th Daytona 24 Hour endurance race at Daytona International Speedway. Most of the 47 entrants will be running so-called one-off drivers, who don’t run the entire series. As such, they often need seat inserts for their stints in the car, molded to their body curves making it more comfortable for them in someone else’s seat.
Ray, 36 years old, is one of eight employees at the small, family-owned BSCI company in Mooresville, NC. He’s been making seats and inserts for the past 14 years and he loves it. Ray is the one who goes to the race shops and races to make the molds. Thursday GODWIN KELLY, motorsports writer for the local Daytona News Journal, and I watched Ray make a seat insert for PATRICK LONG, one of the four drivers in No.45 Flying Lizards Motorsports Porsche Riley Daytona Prototype.
While Long sat in the race car seat with a large plastic bag behind him, Ray mixed a bucket full of black goop, much as one would make cake batter. The goop, polyurethane, was poured into the bag. It seemed like only five minutes or so before the black goop hardened.
Once the mold was hard, Long got out and joined us in watching Ray cut the mold with what appeared to be an electric kitchen knife. Ray quickly and deftly cut here and there, taking off pieces in just the right places. Long said the guy was amazing. It didn’t take long, and Voila! Long had his Rolex 24 seat insert.
Ray said the mold procedure he uses is not a new science – he’s been doing it this way for years for all the top NASCAR teams. Lately BSCI has been branching out into others series including Grand-Am and ALMS. For Flying Lizards’ seat fittings, Ray flew out to its race shop at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma CA.
For most seat fittings, Ray laser-scans the seat or insert before it’s given to the team. In Long’s case, as the Rolex 24 is a one-off scenario, no scan was done. But Long does get to keep the insert – maybe hang it on his wall as a trophy. He saves one driving suit and helmet from each of his many rides.
BSCI – whose initials don’t stand for anything, is an energy impact system company. It makes SFI-approved safety equipment including padding for roll bars/cages and head surrounds, door frames, etc. BSCI manufacturers interior components such as leg braces. Its products aren’t limited to motorsports. BSCI also has military and industrial applications.
Ray was so quick and clever at his job that Kelly and I hadn’t finished chatting up Long before the insert was done. While we continued to interview the 29-year old red head, Ray was packing up his tools and dashing off to his next fitting.
I apologize for not having a better shot of Ray. He was very busy, not stopping long enough for a full frontal view. For that you’ll have to read the Daytona News Journal, which has a professional photographer to complement the dedicated motorsports writer.