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Old 09-10-2015, 08:18 AM
Location: Island of Misfit Toys
5,066 posts, read 2,183,857 times
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I think LaBonte was saying that resulted in NASCAR adopting those measures not that NASCAR invented any of them. I could be wrong. hehe I do think NASCAR was involved in the safer barrier research though. That wasn't completely Indycar.
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Old 09-10-2015, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by plmbpmp View Post

Full face helmets have been mandatory in all forms of major league racing for eons. Except NASCAR.

Safer barriers were developed by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and were in use for several years before NASCAR "invented" them. It's the only good thing that Tony George has ever done and NASCAR has the gall to take credit for it.

HANS devices were mandatory in F1, CART, IRL and sportscar racing well before NASCAR had it's come to Jesus moment when Saint Dale crashed.

When it comes to safety in major league motor racing, NASCAR is by far the worst.
First of all, the SAFER barriers weren't invented by George. They were part of a government research program through the U. of Nebraska-Lincoln to create safer highway crash barriers that pre-dated its use in racing. George actually funded an alternative and much cheaper system that failed when it obliterated and spewed millions of pieces of debris upon impact (i.e. the PEDS barrier).

After that failure, George was willing to spend millions if the U. of Nebraska would adapt the technology to race tracks and he asked NASCAR to chip in (remember, the IMS is also a NASCAR track and NASCAR is practically owned by the family that owns 40% of the tracks on that circuit).

IMS was the first to install the SAFER barrier and it was shown to work. But here is the kicker, the George family only owned the IMS and had a 50% interest in the Chicagoland Speedway. He had no ability to extend or mandate the use of the SAFER barrier beyond the IMS. It is very expensive and requires millions to install, many tracks on the IRL circuit barely make a profit. It took the France family and NASCAR, who provides most of the revenues for the oval tracks used in the IRL, to push the tracks to install the SAFER barriers. They waved the big stick in their ability to take away the only really profitable races those tracks put on each year.

So yeah, NASCAR got into the SAFER barrier dragging its feet and George pushed things along, but NASCAR's embrace of the system is what actually got it throughout most of the major oval tracks in the U.S. So, yes, both of them deserve a lot of credit for it. People forget that the France's family main track owner competitor (SMI), which owns the Texas, Charlotte and Atlanta Motor Speedways, vehemently did not want to retrofit their tracks and instead spent money trying to develop the crushable bumper as an alternative (i.e. the Humpy Bumper, named after the GM of Charlotte track).
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Old 09-10-2015, 03:06 PM
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I had totally forgotten about the Humpy Bumper.. There was an alternative to the HANS device.. 2 that I know of.. One was developed by IMPACT!, I think? The company that Bill Simpson started after the Earnhardt wreck. The other was by an engineer at Childress.. It apparently had straps that connected to the helmet and would tear under load which was supposed to slow the whipping motion of the head.. That device wound up being de-certified and the HANS was the only option left. The Simpson device I don't think ever got approval.

And, then there was the 'horse collar' which Blaise Alexander was wearing when killed at Charlotte.. Ah, the Hutchens device. Bobby Hutchens if I recall was the inventor. And Blaise's crash is really what pushed NASCAR to mandate a head and neck restraint device.. I doubt they would have without Earnhardt's death, but.. Blaise was really the final catalyst. And, just a note, Blaise was killed in an ARCA race the day or so before the Cup race at Charlotte.
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