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SFI Specification Importance

Posted by Matthew Dennehy on

Whether you're an amateur taking your project to the local drag strip or a seasoned professional competing for a national title, SFI spec components are a must for competition vehicles.

As auto racing became more mainstream in the late '60s and '70s, it became apparent that racing equipment needed to be held to a higher standard than factory parts. The increase in horsepower led to more catastrophic failures of parts under load, while the higher top speeds showed a desperate need for safety equipment that would stand up to harder impacts.

SEMA Foundation Inc., or SFI, was formed by none other than SEMA, to "promote quality and reliability in the design, manufacture, and application" of the performance parts industry. While the SFI Foundation has become a separate institution from SEMA, it has expanded its focus to cover many aspects of the racing world, including training race inspectors to make sure your vehicle makes the grade.

Today, adherence to SFI standards for safety equipment is required by race-sanctioning organizations to ensure that your vehicle is safe for competition. Everything from fire-retardant race suits and harnesses to drive shafts and clutches have an assigned SFI spec.

To get a better understanding as to why these specs are so important in competition today, let's take a look at the humble clutch. As many hotrodders will tell you, a manual gearbox makes the driving experience, and this is no different on the race circuit. The importance of an SFI spec clutch may seem tedious to those who are new to drag racing, but veteran drivers and mechanics know better. If you have a clutch failure on your daily driver, it means you can't disengage the transmission and shift into gear. While inconvenient, this is easily remedied with a tow to your local mechanic. When a clutch fails at high rpm on the drag strip, the scenario plays out quite differently. At 10,000 rpm, a clutch failure looks more like a grenade than a broken part, and racing history is littered with shredded cars and driver fatalities from just this one component. This is where SFI specs come in. An SFI rated clutch design has been torture tested, certified, and assigned to specific applications. This process ensures that the highest quality parts are used and minimizes the risk of catastrophic failure.

Things don't stop there when it comes to protecting the driver from harm. There are also specifications for containment bell housings if a clutch does fail, keeping flying shrapnel from entering the cockpit. Fire suppression, manifold blankets, supercharger catch systems, and the famous Hans device, are all covered under SFI standards, making racing safer for competitors and spectators alike.

Here at Action Clutch, our clutch kits and Chromoly - aluminum lightweight flywheels meet or exceed SFI specifications 1.1 through 1.5, but we take it a step further. Aside from our standard quality control checks, every kit is signed off by one of our lead engineers. Meaning that whether you chose our twin-disc clutch or our stage 1 clutch, you have a combined 50 years of engineering expertise standing behind our products.


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