Volume I, Issue 1, Page 25

You Race Your Chevy?

Then Wear A Head and Neck Restraint!

Author’s Note: As part our ongoing selfish campaign to help keep MaxChevy racers informed and alive and well so we can keep writing for you on how to go fast safely, we offer this comprehensive sit-down with Dr. Bob Hubbard, and former Mazda factory racer and winner of the Rolex 24 hours at Daytona, Jim Downing – the inventors of the HANS safety device. I met with them at the NHRA Southern Nationals, where they were observing and offering advice to drag racers on their product and racing safety.

You should be wearing a HANS or other SFI 38.1-certified head and neck restraint when you race. No excuses. Even amateur racing associations are starting to mandate them for racers. For example, the BMW CCA has put in their rulebook that all racers must use a head and neck restraint meeting SFI 38.1, beginning April 1, 2006.  Although the NHRA has other SFI specifications for car construction, etc. in its rulebook, why has it not made head and neck restraints mandatory?

The HANS has become the dominant head and neck restraint specified in almost all major motorsports. In fact, amateur club racing groups are starting to require it if you want to race in their autocross or other events. Pitifully, the NHRA still has not mandated the use of HANS devices in its rulebook, and drag racing is really the last “frontier” for its widespread use. Take heed of what these two racing safety experts have to say and protect yourself, even if your racing sanctioning body won’t, whether it is professional or amateur.

Hubbard inquiring about the placement of the shoulder seat belts fitting this driver’s HANS. Note the strong roll cage and thick bar padding. A head and neck restraint is part of the entire safety equipment package a racer should be using.

MaxChevy: What brings you to the Atlanta race?

Hubbard: Our factory is nearby, and it was a good opportunity to check out how our product is working in this racing. We’re interested in seeing if there are any problems we need to address with the drivers here, and help people understand how to use the HANS device. Also we’re looking at little issues about fit in the car; getting in and out of the car. Those are issues we have seen in a lot of other cars in other series as well.

That [fitment] was a common issue brought up to us when implementing them in NASCAR. We worked with the drivers on familiarity, and worked to make sure the cockpits were designed so that the HANS will fit in comfortably -- get the belts mounted in the right place. But these are all issues we’ve faced in other racing venues, so it’s just a question of getting over these “use” hurdles.

MaxChevy: Have you talked to any of the “average” drag racers here, like bracket racers, or have you been mostly working among the pro classes?

Hubbard: We’ve been dealing mainly with the top-level racers, but we’re willing to talk with anybody. We have several people here that use our product.

MaxChevy: Unlike in NASCAR, there doesn’t seem to be a central point of authority in the NHRA that can say to the average racer, “Do this – wear a head and neck restraint.”

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