CHAMPCAR/CART: Champ Car, IMMI conducts crash tests

Champ Car Makes Progress to the Future of Vehicle Safety INDIANAPOLIS (June 16, 2004) -- Champ Car racing has proven to be one of the fastest racing series in the world. With these amazing stalwart machines housing the top drivers of the ...

Champ Car Makes Progress to the Future of Vehicle Safety

INDIANAPOLIS (June 16, 2004) -- Champ Car racing has proven to be one of the fastest racing series in the world. With these amazing stalwart machines housing the top drivers of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, safety is on top of all priorities.

With all the hype and glamour of high speed racing, the potential danger that accompanies driving a Champ Car is often overlooked, but not in The Champ Car World Series where improving safety is a continual process. On June 2, Champ Car teamed up with IMMI, one of the industry leaders in the science of safety technology, to conduct a crash test designed to gather further information to provide useful safety-related data in the design of Champ Car's next generation chassis, a project spearheaded by Champ Car Director of Technology, Lee Dykstra and the Champ Car Technical Staff.

The crash test took place at the Center for Advanced Product Evaluation (CAPE) facility in Westfield, Indiana. CAPE is a state-of-the-art facility designed specifically for the evaluation of vehicle and occupant safety.

"Conducting crash tests like this helps us obtain valuable knowledge as we continually improve our race cars," said Dykstra. "We are working on the design of future Champ Cars and Toyota Atlantic cars with the intention to make sure our drivers are as safe as they can be when behind the wheel."

In the test environment, a Hybrid III 50th-percentile instrumental test dummy, which represents an average male at 5 feet 10 inches tall and 170 pounds, was placed inside a Champ Car chassis and projected 50 mph backwards into a fixed concrete barrier. This type of rear impact specifically tests the crushability of the structure so Champ Car's engineers can learn how to reduce the stress and forces that go into the back of a driver when a rear contact collision occurs on the racetrack.

Historically, drivers have sustained injuries to their backs and necks when high-speed rear-collisions, such as the one tested, occur. Due to the location of the gear box and the engine, a race car has more mass located within its rear and with heavy impact into a barrier, that solid mass will be forced straight into the drivers back if a crushable structure is not properly intact. This test was designed to investigate the distribution of forces needed to reduce the effect of serious injury.

The test dummy was restrained by an experimental seat belt system designed to improve driver comfort with the HANS system. The dummy was equipped with a Champ Car Earpiece Accelerometer, used to measure the forces on the head, and a crash box recorder was placed inside the car to obtain the correlation with the precise standard instrumentation used in the barrier crash test. Seat belt loads and the vertical movement of the dummy were also recorded, as well as the typical dummy load measurements.

"I am pleased with the results that we obtained during this test," Dykstra stated. "The experimental belt system for the HANS system successfully restrained the driver in a high G rear impact. Valuable occupant load vehicle crush and vertical occupant geometry data was also obtained which will be utilized in future crash research for forthcoming Champ Car vehicles."

"We truly appreciate our new owners, Paul Gentilozzi, Gerry Forsythe, and Kevin Kalkhoven's commitment to safety for the future of Champ Car racing."

Over the last decade, many improvements have been made to ensure the safety of Champ Cars. These crash tests are proven to get the results needed to continually improve these high-tech machines and provide Champ Car drivers with the highest level of safety possible.

-ccws-

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About this article
Series Automotive , IndyCar
Drivers Paul Gentilozzi , Kevin Kalkhoven