- Pictured: Ken Schrader. Picture from Wikipedia / by Bo Nash

The best thing to happen to modern day racing

No it is not Max Verstappen

43w ago
3.6K

What do you think I am going to say?

Better telemetry so the data can be downloaded from the car and analysed in order to work out how to best set up the car and for drivers to compare laps and different set ups more easily? While I am absolutely in love with the data you can get from some systems, the raw racer in me is not a fan of the role computers play in modern racing. I like racing in its purest form, so I love karting.

Aerodynamics you may think is the right answer, because cars can go so much faster if they have wings. Or better tyres, for better mechanical grip. While I do agree that it is spectacular to see cars achieving 4 or 5 G in lateral acceleration I don't think that's the correct answer. Because If what I am thinking of did not exist, motorsport may have been quite different today.

We all love fast cars! Picture from Wikipedia / by user:AngMoKio

We all love fast cars! Picture from Wikipedia / by user:AngMoKio

It might be my medical side talking, but in my opinion the HANS device is one of the best motorsport related inventions. It might look boring to you or you may even think that motorsport should be dangerous. You may say that staring danger in the face throughout a race but managing to come out on top makes the feeling of the win far better. I would also agree with that, for some people that is the case, although I would not put myself in to that position.

But could you imagine if for example nothing in F1 had changed since the sixties. What would that look like on TV today? Before you start typing an angry comment, think about it. Would such a dangerous sport be allowed to exist in todays society? Even if it did, would it be on TV? I most certainly think not. I even think it would have been banned in many countries. Not just that, without motorsport or limited motorsport I think the car scene and car manufacturers would be quite different. I doubt things like the McLaren Senna would exist.

Jackie Stewart lead the way in safety improvements in F1. What he did undoubtedly saved the lives of many drivers. But there is only so much on site medical help can achieve if the drivers are not protected properly while in the cars. So the FIA, NASCAR or any other sanctioning body started implementing crash tests, safer barriers, run off areas and so on.

The safer barrier, designed to absorb the energy from the impact. Picture from Wikipedia / by Brian Cantoni

The safer barrier, designed to absorb the energy from the impact. Picture from Wikipedia / by Brian Cantoni

Unfortunately the human body was still to fragile. No matter how safe the vehicle is or how many doctors you have on site, a crash at 200 mph is bound to end badly. This is where the HANS and other systems come in. These systems are made to restrict head movement in a crash. That type of injury being one of the most common serious injuries in this sport. If we look at the 2001 Daytona 500. It was that type of injury that took the life of Dale Earnhardt. Had he worn a device which would restrict head movement I am certain he would have stood a better chance.

Furthermore, it is this device that allows todays race cars to be so fast. Even if you had the "safest" car or track deceleration forces would still cause injury. But the HANS device brings the risk of head and neck trauma to a minimum.

I will put it this way. If a car was entering a corner at 200mph and had a tyre failure it would crash at quite a high speed. If the driver in said car was not required or did not by their own desire use a HANS or such device they would have a much higher chance of serious head injury or even worse. Which means that if that were the case and danger was at such high levels cars would not be allowed to go that fast. Maybe the wings would have been taken away, because it is only via aerodynamic grip that you can corner at 200 mph. So if you take the aero away, you end u with mechanical grip, in which case the corner speed comes down to 100 mph in order to minimise the risk for drivers.

Picture from Wikipedia / by NaBUru38

Picture from Wikipedia / by NaBUru38

So take a moment to thank Dr. Robert Hubbard for the invention of the HANS. High budget 21st century motorsport would not have been the same without his invention.

You may hate the HALO, but it is better to have than not! Picture from Wikipedia / by Artes Max

You may hate the HALO, but it is better to have than not! Picture from Wikipedia / by Artes Max

What do you think? Let me know in the comments. What do you think the best safety invention is, and do you agree with my point?

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Comments (20)

  • You're spot on there. Safety is the best aspect of modern racing.

    I think the top hoop (I have no idea of the exact term) which doesn't let the driver touch the ground if upside down, is a pretty great advancement.

      10 months ago
    • Yes that is also a good one. A roll bar is what the thing is called. But they caught on to that one quickly, whereas the HANS had many drivers rise against it, but in the end they saw how good it was. Better late than never I guess

        10 months ago
    • It's called the "Halo"

        9 months ago
  • Agreed ... nice piece ... thank you. I think there are a few major, life saving safety improvements to Motor sport.

    1) the monocoque

    2) carbon fiber

    3) HANS device

    4) safer barriers

    5) IndyCar’s new cockpit

      9 months ago
    • Agreed! But I think the best of those is the HANS, because any of the others woldn’d to much good if not for the HANS it is a device that directly affects how much force the body can handle. I have read of drivers surving a 170G crash if my memory is...

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        9 months ago
    • Agreed ... but think about contemporary race cars, at contemporary speed ... in a tube frame chassis which does not bleed off any energy whatsoever. Without carbon fiber monocoque, the HANS device ceases to matter because the driver is...

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        9 months ago
  • Agreed. The HANS has saved a lot of lives. The SAFER barrier is the next thing . Before it a lot of drivers would have either been seriously hurt and possibly never race again to now being able to walk away and race again another weekend.

      9 months ago
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