IRL: IRL, Delphi team up to make racing safer

DELPHI, IRL TO HELP MAKE RACING SAFER THOR-FT crash-test dummy will help advance accident research INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, May 19, 2005 -- Continuing its safety and technical leadership in the world of motorsports, the Indy Racing League (IRL)...

THOR-FT crash-test dummy will help advance accident research

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, May 19, 2005 -- Continuing its safety and technical leadership in the world of motorsports, the Indy Racing League (IRL) has awarded the Delphi Corp. (NYSE: DPH) a state-of-the-art THOR-FT crash test dummy for research use at the company's Vandalia, Ohio, Engineering and Test facility.

The THOR-FT, which stands for Test Device for Human Occupant Restraint -- Frontal Technology, is a specially designed high tech crash test dummy that is able to record more than 130 items of data in a single test - providing improved biofidelity (the ability to react like human tissue) and kinematics (human body movements).

Delphi engineers at the Vandalia facility working with the IRL's technology and safety departments will use the data to evaluate seat belt function along with other safety systems, which will offer a higher level of driver protection in a race car.

In addition, the findings will be used to help develop the next-generation driver safety systems such as improved 5, 6 and 7-point seat belts, head and neck restraints, seat and helmet designs and cockpit surround systems. The data will also be used to optimize "smart" occupant restraint systems.

"We are extremely excited about our new THOR-FT dummy," said Mike Donegan, Delphi engineering manager, Vandalia Engineering and Testing facility. "This dummy will help us continue to develop safety features for the IRL and the rest of the racing industry. We will work with the IRL to utilize every single piece of data from the testing."

THOR-FT utilizes an iDummy system, which integrates the data acquisition system and instrumentation cabling within the dummy. The dummy's human-like shoulder will also allow engineers to get better results in full-scale racing crashes. In addition, the dummy features advanced instrumentation in the lower extremities, which will allow for research in the foot box area.

IRL senior technical manager Phil Casey said the IRL made the decision to acquire the high tech dummy exclusively for Delphi's use because of the company's emphasis on racing safety.

"We've learned a lot about what happens to a race driver in an IRL crash thanks to Delphi technologies and the extensive testing done in the Vandalia lab," said Casey. "This new advanced dummy has more sensors up and down the spine, which will allow us to add even more data to our database. Delphi will help us become more prepared for what a driver may go through in the case of any incident on the track."

First Technology Safety Systems (FTSS) of Plymouth, Mich., which makes the THOR-FT dummy, is customizing the unit for the testing required by the IRL and Delphi.

"We have a long list of tests we will do as soon as we receive the dummy," said Donegan. "We know this high tech piece of equipment will help us continue our record of creating important safety products for the IRL."

Donegan added the lessons that Delphi learns through the THOR dummy for the racetrack may ultimately be used to help make passenger cars and trucks safer.

"One of the great benefits of developing safety technologies for motorsports is that the race track is a great test ground," Donegan said. "The ultimate goal is to be able to transfer these new safety technologies to everyday consumers."

The IndyCar Series continues to set the standard in safety and technological leadership in motorsports. Over the past several years, the IRL has been on the forefront of many advances in auto racing, including the introduction of the SAFER Barrier in 2002 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway; the use of three Delphi IRL Chevrolet Safety Trucks, which travel to all races and are equipped with video cameras in the front and rear; and the use of a device on IndyCar Series cars that measures and communicates the impact of a crash to rescue and safety workers on the scene. Controlled by Delphi's accident data recorder, which is required on all cars, a light illuminates when a crash reaches or exceeds a pre-set threshold, informing safety workers that an injury is more likely.

Delphi designs and tests many of its occupant protection systems at its Vandalia, Ohio, Engineering and Test Facility. A major feature of the facility is a hydraulic test sled that is capable of generating incredible forces, up to two-and-a-half times more force than a conventional 12-inch pneumatic sled. In fact, the hydraulic propulsion system can create a maximum 562,000 pounds of thrust, the equivalent of two Boeing 747 jet airliners during take-off. When loaded with a test-sled weight of 2,200 pounds, the sled can achieve 70 g's of acceleration.

At the facility, Delphi uses a test sled to simulate an actual crash. For motorsports research, Delphi can test for side-impact, static deployment, inflator tank testing, head impact, knee impact and out-of-position.

For more information on Delphi, please visit


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Series Automotive , IndyCar