For motorsports safety experts in a variety of disciplines, everything from itchy underwear to a seven-point harness was up for discussion last month at the second edition of the Racing Goes Safer! Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix Motorsport Safety Conference.
* Dr. Jacques Dallaire, inducted into the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2006, is a Founding Member of the International Council of Motorsport Sciences (ICMS) and has been an ongoing member of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
* Dr. John Melvin, Biomechanical engineer, research manager for the GM Racing Safety Program from 1992 through 1998, has been an independent advisor on racing car crash protection for IRL, CART, F-1, USAC, NASCAR, NHRA, and GM, Ford and Dodge Racing)
* Dr. Terry Trammell, one of the first fellowship trained spinal surgeons in Indiana, FIA medical, ICMS member
* Veteran off-road racing fabricator and racer Danny Ebberts and Formula DRIFT Technical Manager Kevin Wells, who personalized the value of head-to-toe protection at the racetrack.
Representatives from the IZOD IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, SCORE, Porsche, the Vintage Auto Racing Association, and industry giant SEMA—as well as track managers, racing-school operators, drivers, and crew managers—took advantage of the gathered wealth of knowledge from medical, technical and scientific researchers.
The popular seminar from the Stand 21 Safety Foundation included firsthand testimony of drivers involved in incidents and/or accidents.
The audience saw video of Ebberts’ refueling-stop fire during last November’s Baja 1000 off-road race that left him with second- and third-degree burns on his hands and face and crew member Dan Caufiel with burns over 28 percent of his body.
As part of Trammell’s presentation about maximizing fire protection and heat stress control, Ebberts then drove home the necessity of wearing the most fire-resistant and breathable clothing available.
“When you hear racers saying the suits are too hot, send them to me,” Ebberts said. “I will explain to them how a fire is hot. When you hear them saying protective underwear is itchy, send them to me, and I will tell them how itchy it is when your burns start healing!”
Trammell warned of the dangers of heat exhaustion on drivers and how proper racing undergarments can reduce that stress on the body. He said a recent US Army study clearly showed that “soldiers equipped with proper heat-reducing undergarments under their uniforms were able to continue their activities far longer and with more concentration than those who wore just their uniforms.”
During his “What is a safe helmet?” segment, Trammel introduced Formula DRIFT expert Wells, who shared his experience with damage from rocks being flicked his way from another car during an off-road race tryout. One broke Wells’ helmet visor, and while he was trying to hold his visor together, another rock broke his arm.
Award-winning biomedical research scientist FIA member Melvin, who has served as a consultant to General Motors, NASCAR, the National Hot Rod Association and more, taught how to minimize body injury in racecar crashes. He shared the latest improvement in harness, head and neck restraints, and cockpit safety nets.
A steadfast advocate of head and neck restraints who helped design safer passenger vehicles, as well, Melvin told racers, “These devices are the only way to reduce neck and head injuries in the event of an accident.”
Furthermore, he demonstrated that improved driving seats have dramatically enhanced safety.
Mental skills expert Dallaire, a dynamic speaker with a flair for the interactive presentation, addressed the importance of mental conditioning and appropriate concentration for drivers of all levels.
“A driver must remain focused on the task at hand,” he said. “By maintaining his concentration, he alleviates anxieties that would corrupt his correct focus, altering his performance and potentially risking an accident.”
But he did not simply talk about his theory. He enacted it with audience participation to show “How to Bring Your ‘A’ Game.”
After a quick introduction by moderator Don Taylor, Stand 21 founder Yves Morizot explained that his passion for motorsport safety, which compelled him to leave his business as a baker years ago, is his main motivator in offering this conference.
“Racing is still a risky sport, but through our combined efforts in the development of safety measures, we can drastically reduce these risks and continue to save lives. We need to give back to our motorsport community and not focus entirely on individual success,” he said.
The Racing Goes Safer! Motorsport Safety conference is founded by The Stand 21 Safety Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to the promotion and enhancement of safety in motorsports. The Stand 21 Safety Foundation works in collaboration with such motorsport safety & technical institutes such as the FIA Institute for Motorsports Safety, SNELL, and SFI Foundation, as well as major race series, including the FIA, NHRA, SCCA, SCTA, and SCORE. The foundation has an open-door policy to all who can help promote safety in the motorsport.
For additional information, including excerpts, videos, and photos from the 2013 Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix Racing Goes Safer! Motorsport Safety Conference presented by The Stand 21 Safety Foundation, visit www.racinggoessafer.com.