CHAMPCAR/CART: Ford "Blue Box" crash sensor system news

After yesterday's announcement regarding the implementation of crash data recorders for all NASCAR Winston Cup cars in 2002, Ford has received a numerous inquiries regarding its "Blue Box" crash sensor system that is currently used in the CART Fed...

After yesterday's announcement regarding the implementation of crash data recorders for all NASCAR Winston Cup cars in 2002, Ford has received a numerous inquiries regarding its "Blue Box" crash sensor system that is currently used in the CART Fed Ex Champ Car Series.

Following is a release on this device.

DEARBORN, Michigan -- Contact between two Champ Car drivers during a Long Beach practice session in 1998 produced a violent-looking impact erupting into a shower of debris spreading across 200 feet of track. Both drivers walked away from the accident and into their backup cars for the race.

Developing such safety is why Ford Racing Advanced Technology is working with CART as the Official Safety Technologies provider for the fifth consecutive year to continue research toward making CART the safest open-wheel racing series in the world. As such, Ford Racing Advanced Technology is continuing CART's impact sensor program by gathering impact event data which may be used to improve vehicle safety and also understand the effects of high g forces on the human body.


Ford Racing Advanced Technology uses information gained from the Blue Box impact sensor program to recreate on-track crashes. The information is used to refine and validate current crash safety information. Photo: Autostock.

Other than the U.S. military, Ford Motor Company is the most computer-intensive company in the world and uniquely capable of using the data collected from the impact sensors, trackside reports, television feed, and medical injury assessments to create computer simulations of various impacts. The accident simulations can be used to produce effective countermeasures within CART, as well as provide Ford with valuable information regarding human g force tolerances for improved production vehicle design.

"The opportunity for us to lead this effort in understanding the dynamics of what happens during an accident and how we might be able to offer safety countermeasures is extremely exciting and fruitful in both our racing and production vehicle endeavors," said Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technology. "We are committed to the FedEx Championship Series, and this partnership offers us an opportunity to utilize our vast engineering resources to enhance CART's status as a premier racing series while announcing our commitment to the series as an official sponsor."

Ford has improved impact sensor technology by making it a semi-permanent installation within the car drawing power from the car's own electrical system. This allows the sensor to remain in place for constant and continuous monitoring of all practice, qualifying and race sessions.

The Ford "Blue Box" sensor has a range of 1/2 g to 200 g's, but is set to record between 10 g and 180 g for CART's purposes. The Blue Box weighs 2.2 pounds, is 4 inches long, 4 inches wide and 2 inches high, records in three vector directions, and records two seconds per incident including the half-second prior to impact.

In safety terms, the g load recorded is not by itself a telling assessment of an impact. The time or duration for which the load was applied is equally critical. As in the data gathered from Long Beach, the 130 g impact was dissipated through the vehicle and driver to where no injuries occurred. Yet a load of as little as 10 g's when applied over a longer period of time could prove fatal.

Ford Racing Advanced Technology has supplied Blue Boxes to the entire CART field which includes both primary and backup cars. The recorders are constructed from the same materials as flight recorders and are manufactured to be as indestructible. The data collected by this program will be made available to qualified groups through a database for worldwide use in safety research.

-FMC-

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Series Automotive , IndyCar , Monster Energy NASCAR Cup