DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 17, 2003) -- NASCAR completed another of its priority safety projects today as officials announced an option to NASCAR Winston Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series teams for the design and components of an alternate exit that can be implemented beginning with the Sept. 28 NASCAR Winston Cup race weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.
The recommendation completes a 13-month project at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C. for a safety initiative that will provide drivers with an alternate exit through a "hatch" in the roof of the car in the event of an emergency situation. The alternate exit project, guided by NASCAR Managing Director of Research and Development Gary Nelson, had its overall design and components created at the NASCAR Research and Development Center.
NASCAR has made the installation of the alternate exit optional for both the NASCAR Winston Cup and NASCAR Busch Series. NASCAR Winston Cup teams will have the option to use the alternate exit at Talladega while the NASCAR Busch Series teams, which are idle the Sept. 28 weekend, will have the option beginning with the Oct. 4 weekend at Kansas Speedway. The kit, which will be available through independent vendors, will cost approximately $150 and will take teams about 15 hours to install on a car.
"NASCAR is extremely pleased to have completed this initiative and be able to provide the teams with blueprints for another safety component," Nelson said. "The breakthrough on this project came when one of our in-house engineers developed the latch mechanisms that were superior to the others we researched and developed during the length of the project. The completion of this priority project will allow us to focus our energies on other key ongoing projects being developed at the NASCAR Research and Development Center, including the car of tomorrow."
The alternate exit will allow drivers an additional exit through the top of the vehicle should they be unable to utilize the traditional window exit. The hatch, which measures approximately 24 inches by 24 inches on the driver's side roof, is controlled by steel cable pull cords in the cockpit that are connected to a latch system. By pulling on one cable, it will allow the driver to open the exit to the front or rear of the car. By pulling on both cables, it will allow the driver to completely remove the piece. The system is controlled by the driver, but safety crews also will be able to release the system as well, if needed.
Under the direction of Dr. Dean Sicking, director of the University of Nebraska's Midwest Roadside Facility, NASCAR conducted numerous crash tests at the facility. The final crash test was held Aug. 6 at the Midwest Roadside Facility and this test included a crash dummy and simulated a rollover-type accident. The test generated positive results and data on the integrity of the design.
"Working closely with the race teams, we were able to move this project to the next level, which would be to get more time on it and ideas from the various teams that will be working with it," Nelson said. "Our test in Nebraska proved the integrity of the design for that type of accident. Now we will begin working with many more teams to continue to evolve and fine-tune the application of the design."