Safety Experts headline SCCA National Convention

Safety Experts headline SCCA National Convention

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Feb. 9, 2004) -- Sports Car Club of America, Inc. members were treated to one of the greatest panels of motorsports restraint safety experts ever assembled this weekend at the Club's annual meeting in Kansas...

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Feb. 9, 2004) -- Sports Car Club of America, Inc. members were treated to one of the greatest panels of motorsports restraint safety experts ever assembled this weekend at the Club's annual meeting in Kansas City.

Saturday's SCCA University-backed safety symposium included presentations by Arnie Kuhns (SFI Foundation), Hubert Gramling (FIA Foundation), Dr. John Melvin (Tandelta), Carl Schroth (Schroth Safety Products) and Dr. Robert Hubbard (Hubbard-Downing/HANS).

"What our members were treated to on Saturday was both unprecedented and monumental in the motorsports industry," SCCA President and CEO Steve Johnson said. "From a content and information standpoint, it was one of the biggest days in SCCA history, and an example of our commitment to improve our safety practices and professionalism throughout the entire organization. I challenge anyone to find a better panel of expert presenters than what we had in Kansas City."

The panel presented information and accompanying materials dealing with the mechanics of racing accidents, focusing on how individual pieces of safety equipment and entire safety systems work to help prevent injuries.

Kuhns started the presentation with explanations of how the SFI came to be and how it has come up with tests to certify various types of safety equipment for more than 50 motorsports sanctioning bodies.

Gramling, who developed the airbag safety system in Formula One and is on loan to the FIA from Daimler Chrysler to work on a number of projects to improve safety in both road racing and rally, presented information on what the FIA has found in their own and independent tests. He also noted the FIA's desire to work with SCCA and other sanctioning bodies to bring safety systems to the forefront of not just professional racing, but on a grassroots level as well.

Dr. Melvin, who has been at the forefront of motorsports safety in recent years due to his focus based on a medical, engineering and motorsports background, presented data, sled test footage and actual crash footage. He noted the importance of the entire safety system, which includes not only seat belts and personal systems (helmet, suit, etc.), but also a proper seat, head and neck restraint and various items to work in conjunction with the seat to keep a driver from moving violently in an accident.

Schroth explained the difference between seat belt materials, and how that relates to strength and functionality. He also presented information about the proper mounting of belts, which is paramount in their proper function as a restraint.

Finally, Dr. Hubbard went through a detailed presentation on the mechanics of and history behind his head and neck restraint, the HANS device. A biomechanical engineering professional, Hubbard was instrumental in designing the head of crash-test dummies for a variety of automotive sled tests. He gave a brief history of the development of his device, which began in the mid-1980s and has become the exclusive worldwide choice in head and neck restraint for the many of the top motorsports sanctioning bodies.

"The information presented to us in the safety symposium was very sobering, but above all, educational," Colorado SCCA Club Racing driver and Convention attendee Jon Goodale said. "I've been wearing a HANS device for a year. While wearing it is crucial, there are other things too, including seat supports, nets and seat belt mounting practices that will not only make a big difference in a crash, but are relatively inexpensive in the grand scheme of things.

"After seeing the presentation, I really need to re-evaluate the entire interior of my car."

The symposium was professionally recorded by the SCCA University, which is now seeking funding through the SCCA Foundation to produce the piece and make it available to SCCA members. For more information on how to help make the 2004 SCCA University Convention Safety Symposium a reality, please contact Barb Lundquist at 800/770-2055.

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