Simpson/NASCAR lawsuit dropped

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Bill Simpson, safety equipment manufacturer, dropped his lawsuit against the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing Tuesday. Simpson was suing after allegations that a Simpson-made seat belt failure caused the death of...

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Bill Simpson, safety equipment manufacturer, dropped his lawsuit against the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing Tuesday. Simpson was suing after allegations that a Simpson-made seat belt failure caused the death of seven time Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt in Daytona of 2001.

The 8.5 million dollar defamation suit was dropped, and a statement released that NASCAR and Simpson had reached a mutual agreement. Originally Simpson had looked for reparations including $6 million for loss of his company's business advantage and $2.5 million for loss of profits and earnings.

Simpson alleged that NASCAR used the firm as a scapegoat in the Earnhardt death, by claiming that the lap restraint in the No. 3 RCR Chevy of Earnhardt failed, precipitating the fatal basal skull fracture that ultimately killed the NASCAR legend.

At the center of the debate was the expert analysis of Dr. Steve Bohannon, director of emergency medical services at Daytona International Speedway, who speculated that a belt failure might have played party to Earnhardt's injuries.

"Simpson and NASCAR are happy to announce that they agree that it is in the best interest of racing that they direct their time, energy and resources away from litigation and to improving safety for professional racing drivers," said the two sides in a statement issued Tuesday."

NASCAR President Mike Helton was pleased that the lawsuit was settled under amicable terms, "We recognize that Bill has contributed significantly to the safety of motorsports for over 43 years, and we are glad the issue has been resolved."

In July of 2001, Simpson walked away from the day-to-day operations of the company he formed in 1958 and later sold to Carousel Capitol in 1998. While he is no longer dealing with daily operations of Simpson Performance Products, he retains 33% interest in the company.

Simpson, who has recently formed a new company, looks forward to moving on from this issue and doing what he does best: providing innovative safety measures for professional race car drivers.

"I'm looking forward to doing what I do best," Simpson said. "And that's helping drivers and teams be as safe as they can at the track."

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Series Automotive , NASCAR Cup
Drivers Mike Helton