Roush grooup talks about throttle device

Jack Roush, along with Roush Industries Head Engineer Bob Corn and drivers Jeff Burton and Ricky Rudd, were part of a Q&A Saturday morning at Richmond International Raceway to discuss a new device that will stop the car's engine when a ...

Jack Roush, along with Roush Industries Head Engineer Bob Corn and drivers Jeff Burton and Ricky Rudd, were part of a Q&A Saturday morning at Richmond International Raceway to discuss a new device that will stop the car's engine when a driver applies a 850-900 pounds of pressure to the brakes. Following is a transcript of the Q&A portion only.

JACK ROUSH, Car Owner -- "The press release that was distributed yesterday anticipated the installation and use of seven prototype systems that we had brought here. It looks like many of those are not gonna be installed. The teams that asked for them have not installed them, even though they indicated that they would. The 18 and the 20 are working to get theirs up and running. The 99 used his through qualifying and practice yesterday and the 9 Busch Grand National car had his on and he won the race with it last night. The 2 has elected not to go on and install theirs at this time. The 12 has elected not to at this time and the 24, Jeff Gordon came to me after he heard about the initial test we did at Darlington told me that he had to have one. Michael Kranefuss said that he had to have the first one, but, for whatever reason, they've decided not to interrupt their testing and their preparations here by putting them on. We're anxious to get the data back and the impressions back from the folks that would try them before we go on and make the mass quantity orders that are necessary to support the entire field and potentially more than Winston Cup. We don't want to do the wrong thing here, so we've got seven systems we brought. It looks like that four of them may in fact be used this weekend. The initial testing that we had occurred about two weeks ago at Darlington. We had a system on Jeff Burton's car when we tested prior to the race. Ricky Rudd was there and he drove the car as well as Jeff did and they're both here to answer any questions you might have on that.

"On the press release it did indicate that there would be seven (ignition interrupter systems) of them here and on vehicles and I think I've made it clear that even though we've made those available, Steve Peterson went around in the order of points and talked to Bobby Labonte first and Jimmy Makar indicated that he wanted to get one on. He had been talking to Butch Stevens about it and they came back to us trying to get the systems. Steve Peterson went back in the order of NASCAR Winston Cup points and asked the teams if they wanted them and if they said they wanted them, then they got them in that order. As I said, not all are installed at this point, but that anticipation that we had that they would all be on cars hasn't worked out."

"I guess there's one other thing I'd like to say. We've drawn some fire here, along with NASCAR, for trying to do the right thing I think. I don't know, from time to time it's pretty clear that you guys have slow news days. David Poole went out and grabbed Dave Marcis on a bad day and Dave told him what he thought of me and it looked like we were bad guys trying to capitalize on human suffering by trying to do this thing. Dave is pretty much a loose cannon on and off the race track. I don't know if he'll be in the event. We'll likely have a better event if he's not here tonight based on the way he's been running into people lately, but, anyway, we're trying to do the right thing. We're trying to help. We interfaced with NASCAR on this as we had with the roof flap thing and, if sometimes it looks like we're doing this for selfish or self-serving reasons I'm sorry. We'll do what we can when it appears that we can do something useful." ARE YOU SURPRISED THERE'S SUCH A DEBATE OVER WHO MADE THIS FIRST? "Like I said, I think occasionally there are some slow news days and you make the best contentious story that you can. In 1901 Henry Ford took his 999 race to Mount Clemens and he ran it and actually earned by winning an event there, it was a gamble most likely, he won the money that he started the Ford Motor Company with. If I had been around in that time -- well, first of all, let me say that I suspect there may have been a problem with the hardware he had with the stick and throttle -- and if he had that problem it's very likely he used a coat hanger so he could reach up and pull it back with. If I had been around at that time and had a car that was racing against him and had the same problem, I would have had the same coat hanger even though I may not have talked to him about what I was doing. Most of the elements, the pure science of automotive technology, internal combustion engine, transportation based on round-centered wheels, most of it is not new. The thing that is new about what we have done here is putting together, as I said, the rectifier, the transistor, the latching concern, the vacuum switch and the pressure switch and the parameters on which they work. That's new, and we believe that it helps solve the problem that we've got in front of us. What Dave Marcis and what Dick Trickle or anybody else did in Wisconsin in 1964 is of no concern to me. I wasn't there, I don't care. If they had a system that came out of that era with that form of racing and somebody wanted to bring it forward, I'd be happy to put it on my car. But we were faced with a scenario that said the driver had to remember to push the button. It occasionally got pushed inadvertently, and it was clear that we had the prospect of reducing the time from when the driver realized he had a problem, found the switch and pushed it, to 17 nanoseconds -- 17-millionths of a second -- that this circuit could operate in and that's what we did."

JEFF BURTON --99-- Exide Batteries Taurus -- IS THERE ANY DISADVANTAGE AT HAVING THE ENGINE CUT OFF BECAUSE YOU USE POWER STEERING? "If all of the things are going on that it takes to activate this switch -- if all of those things are going on -- there's no disadvantage in having it cut the engine off. You are in a slide at that point anyway, you're not gonna turn your wheels regardless, so, in my opinion, there's absolutely no negative whatsoever in having the engine shut off to slow the severity of the impact. I just can't imagine there would be any negative at all."

RICKY RUDD --28-- Texaco Havoline Taurus -- FOLLOWING UP ON BURTON'S ANSWER. "First of all, the motor would still be free-wheeling because you're still gonna have it in gear. So the power-steering pump is still gonna continue to turn. You're gonna have power-steering. Just real briefly, how I got involved in this. We were down at Darlington testing. I didn't realize Jeff and Jack had that device on their car, they were working on it, and it was really running in the background while they were testing. I think in two days of testing, I don't think Jeff ever set it off by accident unless he intended to set it off. They came and got me, I was testing the 28 car. They said, 'Hop in this thing. We've been working on this brake device and tell us what you think.' Steve Peterson was down there observing with NASCAR, so I hopped in the car and went out and made a couple of runs. When I intended to set it off, it went off. What I like about that device, I think all of us at one time or another have had a hung throttle and the human element that it takes to remember -- the human psychological things that go on in a drivers mind when a throttle hangs, the first thing when you lift that foot is that you're already in the corner too deep almost anyway because you're driving as hard as you can. So you lift your foot and that split-second it tells you, 'Hey, I've got a hung throttle.' The next thing you have time to do is to grab a foot full of brake and, again, like Jack said, it's left-foot brake. You don't think about pushing the clutch in, you don't think about going for the ignition switch, you don't think about a safety switch on a steering wheel, you think about getting a leg full of brake. The device that kind of simulated what would happen if a hung throttle developed, it worked. As far as I'm concerned, I don't care who invented it. I don't care if Henry Ford invented it in 1901 -- let them guys argue over who has the rights to it -- but I will say that Jack brought it to the table. Here he's got it in a form that we can actually bolt it on a car. Instead of talking about it for a year, he's got a piece that works. Sure, maybe some more testing needs to go on. Maybe some guys need to run it in the background to make sure nothing crops up, but the device worked plain and simple. I don't know how complicated it is, but from the driver's seat it's pretty simple. It ran and you didn't know it was there until you needed it, so I'm a fan of it because it will do what it's intended to do."

IT WOULD NOT HAVE STOPPED YOUR CAR AT POCONO, BUT IT WOULD HAVE LESSENED THE IMPACT? "At Pocono I had a tire explode. I ran over something sailing off into turn one. I got a foot full of brake and I was off the throttle, so in that particular situation it wouldn't have worked. The switch would not have worked because I was off throttle, my throttle did not hang, so the device would not have activated at that time. It's not a cure all for everything, but it is a cure all for struck throttles."

SO IF THE CAR IS RUNNING PROPERLY HARD BRAKING WILL NOT SET IT OFF? "It will not set it off. I think Jeff ran for two days and...

BURTON - FOLLOWING UP ON RUDD'S ANSWER -- "You cannot set it off unless you have all of the parameters going on. It takes every one of the parameters to set the switch on. If it's missing one thing, it won't do it. That's the only way the system can work and not have a failure. You can't set it off inadvertently."

RUDD CONTINUED -- "I think Jack was saying it takes 850-900 pounds of line pressure. That's one of the elements along with the throttle. Normal braking, what do you think, 600 pounds or something like that with average braking. (BURTON SAID 700-750 AT HIGH BRAKING RACE TRACKS) But probably with a stuck throttle, I think you can adjust the switch to 850 or 900 or whatever, but I'd bet under a stuck throttle I'd bet you that pressure is off the scale -- 1100-1200 pounds probably."

ROUSH CONTINUED -- WOULD YOUR SYSTEM HAVE BEEN READY FOR EVERYONE AT NEW HAMPSHIRE? "We think that we can make this system available for every team, but we'd have to work diligently starting Monday. We've got another 12 in the system, so we've got 19 that we know we're gonna have by the middle of the week. If the industrial-type switches that we've got in the first seven units -- if those are available to us in sufficient quantities on the shelf and we believe they are -- we could do another 30 or 40 by the weekend if we needed to."

BOB CORN, Roush Industries Head Engineer -- HOW DOES THIS SYSTEM SAFEGUARD AGAINST SOMETHING LIKE TRACTION CONTROL? "I think the answer to that is its simplicity. It's just very, very simple. There are two switches and a latching system and that's all that's there. As long as what we've done in working with Steve Peterson is to put this thing so it's visible and open -- they can look at it and police it and make sure that nothing has been added and through it's simplicity it can't do that."

ROUSH CONTINUED -- IS THIS A PATENTABLE ITEM? "I don't know if it's patentable. We have applied for a patent for it and the reason that we've done that is if it is patentable and if somebody would come through behind us and see what we've done in terms of the combination and would patent it, well then they could wind up holding the NASCAR teams and the drivers at ransom -- paying them homage in order to be able to use the idea -- so we've made an application for a patent as a formality -- just as formality. We did the same thing on the roof flaps just to stop somebody from taking advantage of us."

COULD YOU USE THIS TECHNOLOGY TO ACTIVATE AN AIR BAG? "You could use simple switches to activate and air bag. In deference to a computer chip or some real complex circuitry, yeah, you could put together a simple means of activating an air bag. This particular circuitry is not organized for that, but you could."

FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES Monte Carlo 400 Advance, Page 4 September 9, 2000 Richmond International Raceway

CORN CONTINUED -- FOLLOWING UP ON ROUSH'S ANSWER -- "That may not be the right thing to do. If you trigger it too early, you've lost the effectiveness of the air bag. Generally, the air bags are sort of inertia dependent, so that's meant to happen at the time of impact. So if this in effect triggered it as it's supposed to and give you some cushion and safety time, you may inadvertently use up the air bag's safety feature."

ROUSH CONTINUED -- DO YOU EXPECT MORE TEAMS TO HAVE THIS DEVICE NEXT WEEK REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THEY USE IT OR NOT? "We've got to talk to NASCAR about what's next. They have approved the use of the system to this point. They haven't required, and I think they've stopped short of -- they're endorsing it but they haven't required it. We don't want to do the wrong thing. Unless NASCAR encourages us to make a big effort to make enough available for everybody, we will have probably 18 or 19 available for New Hampshire. After going through the race with the number of them in the race, I expect to have another meeting with NASCAR to either encourage us or tell us to stay the course and step cautiously."

Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus, spoke about the latest rule change in which teams will have a one-inch restrictor-plate at New Hampshire next weekend.

DALE JARRETT --88-- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- "I applaud NASCAR for doing what they can do. I realize that they tried to make a lot of different things work and just because it sounds like a simple solution, there is no simple solution. They did the very best thing that they could do to try to make things safer."

HOW DISCOURAGING WAS LAST WEEK FOR YOU? DID YOU WALK AWAY THINKING THIS MIGHT BE BOBBY'S YEAR? "No. I mean, you know that we had a lot of good fortune when we won the championship and I'm sure there were times last year that they thought, 'Man, we've got a shot at 'em here,' and then we would come up and do something that they weren't expecting. That's why we run 500 miles, 500 laps or as close as we can get to that. It looked like all day that we had a chance, if nothing else, gain five or 10 points and then you turn around and lose 20. It's not discouraging. I think if I was discouraged, we should have just run better and got ourselves in a better position there at the end."

DO YOU LOOK AT LAST YEAR'S RACES AT CERTAIN TRACKS AND SAY IF WE DO THAT AGAIN THIS YEAR WE'LL BE OK? "No, not really because things have changed so much. Setups have changed. I can't say that we can go anywhere, I can't even say that there's a race track right now that we go back to that I say, 'OK, from what we learned the first there we can go back there and we're gonna be the car to beat.' We've still struggled on the race track and until we get that part figured out, it's just a week-to-week thing and try to make the most of those races. Last year, what you did then just really doesn't count."

SO THE FACT BOBBY BEAT YOU AT EIGHT OF THE LAST 10 TRACKS LAST YEAR DOESN'T MATTER? "That was last year and that's what he had to try to do. Our job last year at that point, even though we went into each race with the intention of winning, our main goal was to make sure we finished up front."

HOW MUCH MORE DIFFICULT IS IT GOING THROUGH THE YEAR AS THE CHAMPION WITH ALL THE RESPONSIBILITY? "It's not that much more. We've always tried to do as much as we possibly can for the sport. There are a lot of demands, we have to say no a lot more than what we had to before because there simply isn't enough time to do everything, but it's not anything that can't be handled."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Dick Trickle , Dave Marcis , Henry Ford , Jack Roush