Safety leaders encourage ARCA drivers to spread the message about safety

Safety leaders encourage ARCA drivers to spread the message about safety

(BROOKLYN, Mich. – June 17, 2014) – Two high-level experts in auto racing safety told a group of ARCA drivers and crew chiefs Friday that it’s up to them to help spread the word about safety in race cars.

“Get the word out,” said Dr. John Melvin. “We need you to help spread the message, particularly to the parents of young race car drivers.”

Dr. Melvin is an Ann Arbor, Mich. resident who works in research and consultation in crash safety and injury biomechanics with Tandelta Inc. He teamed up with Thomas Gideon, senior director of safety, research and development with NASCAR, to talk with ARCA officials, drivers, crew chiefs and team members about safety in the sport. The seminar was hosted by the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards and the ARCA Safety Initiative during its visit to Michigan International Speedway.

The two industry leaders spoke about everything from the safety of head and neck restraint devices, seats, foam padding inside the race car and seat belts. Gideon said the two enjoy speaking about safety when they can to continue getting the message out.

“There are thousands of race car drivers all over the country,” Gideon said. “There are so many of them out there. We’ve only helped a few hundred when you think about it. We all need to get the word out.”

Dr. Melvin said accidents in racing can be dangerous if the proper safety equipment is not used.

“All it takes is 40 miles per hour,” he said. “Forty miles per hour, straight into a wall in a race car and you can die. It’s not necessarily about the speeds. We know what causes injuries now. We just need to get people to realize what they have to do. We know the physics of it.

“Kids need the head and neck restraints. As soon as you put belts on them, they need a HANS.”

He added that there are organizations in the country that are starting at the grass-roots level in promoting safety in the race car.

Race car safety has come a long way in the past decade and improvements continue to be made.

Dr. Melvin stressed to the drivers in attendance that seat belts must be mounted properly and seats are a key piece in the entire safety structure.

“You have to have them installed properly to have them work,” he said. “The seats are a very critical protection for our head and neck.”

ARCA Racing Series driver Grant Enfinger said it is important for drivers to be reminded about safety as often as possible.

“I think a lot of us get distracted,” he said. “Take foam, for example. Who thinks about foam inside the race car? It’s just there. These guys have done the research. They know the specs. They’ve tested it.”

Austin Wayne Self, 18, said when he gets into a race car, he wants to be certain the car is safe.

“Safety is the most important thing,” Self said. “I really have to thank these guys for doing what they do, for the research and for all they have done in terms of safety. At the end of the day, safety is really the most important thing.”

ARCA President Ron Drager said the sport is benefitting from research and study and the safety improvements being made all of the time.

“Tom Gideon and Dr. John Melvin are among the most highly respected individuals when it comes to race car driver safety developments, and we are gratified for them to take time to share information with our drivers and crew chiefs,” Drager said.

“The innovations that have been incorporated to make our sport safer over the past 10-15 years have come from contributions by companies like NASCAR, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the auto manufacturers, along with individuals like Tom and John. Everyone in the sport benefits from the investment they have all made, and we owe it to the future of the sport to continue to keep safety at the forefront.”

-          By Doug Donnelly

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Tim D.

ARCA Racing.