CHAMPCAR/CART: CART joins with IMMI to ensure safer cars

INDIANAPOLIS (December 2, 2002) - The last 10 years have seen massive improvements in the safety of open-wheel race cars, but the fact that many drivers throughout the sport continue to suffer foot injuries in high-speed accidents remains a...

INDIANAPOLIS (December 2, 2002) - The last 10 years have seen massive improvements in the safety of open-wheel race cars, but the fact that many drivers throughout the sport continue to suffer foot injuries in high-speed accidents remains a concern to Championship Auto Racing Teams and its partners.

In an effort to make its next generation of cars as safe as possible, CART and IMMI conducted a crash test on November 11 designed to gather information to help engineers design cars that will protect drivers further in the case of a racing accident.

IMMI is one of the industry leaders in the science of safety technology and, with the help of the Center for Advanced Product Evaluation (CAPE), held the test session last month as CART evaluated new ideas for restraint systems as well as ways for monitoring the forces induced on drivers during impact.

"We are aware of the dangers that drivers face and we are doing all we can to protect the driver in an accident," said CART Director of Technology & Competition Lee Dykstra. "We are working on the design of the 2005 chassis and we intend to make every effort to ensure that our cars are as safe on they can possibly be."

The test took place with a 2001 Reynard chassis, which was delivered into a fixed barrier at 50 mph with a 90-degree angle of impact. In addition to the standard ADR II crash-data recorder, the car was equipped with monitoring devices in the foot well and on the brake pedals, and the 170-pound dummy that was in the cockpit was also fitted with an earpiece accelerometer that measures the forces on the head. The earpiece device was developed by CART Director of Medical Affairs Dr. Steve Olvey, and has been used in races this season. The dummy was also fitted with experimental driver-restraint devices, testing a new belt system that was designed to work with the HANS device to provide a better, more comfortable fit for drivers.

"The car held up well in the test and the chassis did everything that it was designed to do during the impact," Dykstra said. "We didn't see anything that surprised us and the data that we gathered, especially in the area surrounding the driver's lower extremities, should help us as we move forward in designing and building a safer car in 2005."

CART initiated a chassis freeze for the next two seasons in a cost-containing move for its teams, meaning that the next generation of Champ Cars currently under design will hit the track in 2005.

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Series Automotive , IndyCar