IRL: Indianapolis Motor Speedway safety innovations

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IRL: Indianapolis Motor Speedway safety innovations
May 3, 2002, 5:47 AM

Safety improvements and innovations timeline for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway 1911: Inaugural Indianapolis 500 winner Ray Harroun employs what is believed to have been the first rear-view mirror on his No. 32 Marmon "Wasp." 1921: The ...

Safety improvements and innovations timeline for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

1911: Inaugural Indianapolis 500 winner Ray Harroun employs what is believed to have been the first rear-view mirror on his No. 32 Marmon "Wasp."

1921: The Duesenberg Motor Company team, operated by Fred and Augie Duesenberg, introduces the use of four-wheel hydraulic brakes.

1925: Front-wheel drive is used at the Speedway for the first time on a privately owned Miller entry, driven by Dave Lewis and Bennett Hill, that finishes second.

Early 1930s: Magnetic particle inspection (Magnaflux) of key safety-related components, such as steering shafts, is implemented.

1933: Oil capacity restricted to 6 gallons; oil can no longer be added after the race begins.

1935: The first installation of colored warning lights (green and yellow) completed at the Speedway in time for the 1935 Indianapolis 500.

1935: Helmets are made mandatory, a first for motor racing. They were not required in European grand prix racing until 1952.

1936: First mandatory driver's test is instituted, requiring that all new drivers show their skills at various speeds before they are allowed to practice for the "500."

1936: Inside concrete wall removed and safety aprons substituted.

1938: Pit wall constructed to separate crews' work area from pit area, thus providing a safer working environment for crews during practice.

1948: New emergency medical center constructed, expanded in 1972, and still in use today with state-of-the-art trauma center equipment.

1957: Pit area is completely redesigned with safety in mind. A second wall is added, separating pit lane from the racing surface.

1959: All drivers required to wear fire-retardant uniforms, and roll bars are required on cars.

1964: New safety cable is installed on outer edge of entire track.

1965: Only methanol fuel -- which is much less volatile than gasoline -- is permitted. All cars must be equipped with a rupture-resistant fuel cell, and on-board fuel capacity is limited to 75 gallons. A minimum of two pit stops is required for each car (increased to three in 1968 and four in 1972).

1974: Onboard fuel capacity is reduced to a maximum of 40 gallons.

1979: "Packup" procedure established, whereby the Pace Car enters the track during cautions to regulate the speed of the field.

1991: Revolutionary energy-absorbing attenuator is added at pit entrance.

1993: Crash data recorders, developed by Delphi Automotive Systems, are placed in cars competing in the Indianapolis 500. This is the first application of this groundbreaking technology in motorsports.

1993: New outside walls and larger, higher safety fences installed. New warning strips and warm-up lanes installed.

1998: First version of PEDS Barrier (Polyethylene Energy Dissipating System) installed inside exit of Turn 4 in time for the 82nd Indianapolis 500. The wall consists of 5-foot-long, overlapping impact plates made of polyethylene. Each plate contains two cylinders made of the same material and measuring 16 inches in diameter.

1999: The second-generation PEDS Barrier, PEDS-2, is installed inside the exit of Turn 4, replacing the PEDS Barrier. PEDS-2 contains an additional, smaller, polyethylene cylinder inside the original PEDS cylinder to add strength to the system.

1999: Debris fence added in North Pits, separating pit lane from grandstands and enhancing fan safety. Additional debris fence added south along pit lane in 2001.

2001: Race Control Camera System installed.

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