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I have owned a few toughbooks and have had a genereally positive experience. They are a bit on the higher end of the price range but for me they are worth it. They have a durable exteriror shell and is generally a well constructed machine. This is the one I have http://buytough.com/toughbook-cf19.asp. It gives you the best of both world, it can be a PC or flipped over into a "tablet" like gadget.
Still very durable and worht purchasing in my opinion.
Dell makes a nice armored laptop that has a durable shell and is sealed against dust and water. It sounds like it would be great for banging around a pit area. The price is a little salty, though. The list price is around $4,000, give or take. Or to put it another way, it costs about what you would expect for a set of good Marchesini forged magnesium wheels for a race bike! :-)