Another NASCAR drive killed

Clinton McClure

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I also believe all the drivers should wear a HANS device of some sort, however NASCAR will not mandate it. NASCAR is reluctant to mandate any piece of PPG (personal protective gear) for the simple reason that if a driver is seriously injured or killed while wearing an article of PPG mandated by NASCAR, NASCAR is then at fault and could be sued. IE: If HANS devices were required and someone sustained a neck injury in a crash because they were using the HANS device, NASCAR could be held liable.
I believe the president of Nascar stated that about a month ago.
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Steve Owen

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Agreed that the drivers should be wearing some sort of head restraint, but in this case the blame for not mandating it does not fall on NASCAR. This was an ARCA race which is an entirely different sanctioning body. They run Winston Cup style stock cars, many of them are actually retired WC cars.
Still very sad indeed....

-Steve
 

KeithH

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This is awful. I don't know if the HANS device is the answer, but something needs to be done. Stock cars (NASCAR-and ARCA-type cars) are supposed to be very safe relative to, say, Formula 1 cars, but we have been losing a number of stock car drivers lately. Obviously, something is wrong.
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Michael St. Clair

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I don't know if the HANS device is the answer, but something needs to be done. Stock cars (NASCAR-and ARCA-type cars) are supposed to be very safe relative to, say, Formula 1 cars
Actually, "stock" (talk about a misnomer) cars have gotten so rigid that in many types of accidents you would better off in an open wheel car. If there is nothing crumples or tears off to absorb energy, more energy gets delivered to the driver.
 

CharlesD

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Stock cars (NASCAR-and ARCA-type cars) are supposed to be very safe relative to, say, Formula 1 cars, but we have been losing a number of stock car drivers lately.
This is simply not the case. NASCAR has made the claim recently that their cars are "the safest in the world" but this is absurdly false. They have had seven drivers killed in what? the last year and a half? In F1 the last driver killed was May 1st 1994 (Senna)
F1 has been very proactive in terms of safety unlike NASCAR. For instance in 1999 Michael Schumacher crashed at Silverstone, impacting a tire barrier head on at approx. 120 mph. Part of the suspension pushed through the wall of the tub and broke his leg. Subsequent to that incident the FIA (F1's sanctioning body) required strong and thicker construction of that part of the car. This year at Spa Luciano Burti had a similar incident impacting a tire barrier at an estimated 177 mph. He had some bruising and a concussion. By contrast, according to NASCAR the deceleration into the wall that killed Dale Earnhardt was 44mph.
NASCAR may be the be-all and end-all of motor-racing to many in the US but it is far from the safest in the world. Its technology is 40 years old, and its attitude toward safety is not much better. They have made the roll cages a lot stronger over the years to protect the driver. They have also instituted those roof flaps that have basically eliminated roll overs. But those strong cages and the lack of deformable structures in the front of the car are part of the problem with a head on hit with a wall.
NASCAR racers are made of tube frames with a sheet metal skin. F1 (and CART and IRL) cars are carbon fibre monocoque with the engine and transmission as load-bearing members of the car. When cars like this hit a wall the various parts can come apart absorbing energy. The monocoque is made of carbon fiber which is both stronger and lighter than steel. Instead of bending or tearing in a wreck, when it fails it shatters into small pieces which again absorbs a lot of energy.
The NASCAR car might bend a little but stays intact which does not dissipate the energy. In an impact therefore the deceleration on the driver happens in a shorter, sharper impulse which causes more injuries than if it is spread out over a longer interval.
Here is a summary of some of the safety features of the carbon fiber monocoque design in F1.
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Steve Owen

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I'm not trying to defend NASCAR, but I want to make sure people get facts straight...
By contrast, according to NASCAR the deceleration into the wall that killed Dale Earnhardt was 44mph
I think it was over 100 mph at which he hit the wall (that being the velocity vector normal to the wall). I'll try to check that though.
-Steve
 

CharlesD

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Steve-
You are right, the numbers alone don't prove anything. NASCAR (and similar heavy tube framed "stock" cars) have more races with more people participating so comparing the numbers of fatalities alone does not prove anything.
According to this overview of NASCAR's report on Earnhardt's death
Utilizing a finite element impact model that was calibrated by data from full-scale crash tests, it was determined that Earnhardt's racecar impacted the outside wall at a speed of no less than 157mph at a heading angle of between 55 and 59deg and at a trajectory angle of 13-14deg. In just 0.08sec, Earnhardt's car lost between 42 and 44mph.
I am not a NASCAR fan, but as a motor racing fan I find NASCAR's lack of pro-activity in terms of safety appalling. I also find it appalling that such a crash should lead to a fatality. I could drive my street car into a wall at 44 mph and probably live. I really don't care about NASCAR's concern for its image or the specialities of its car building shops, but the fact is the technology and expertise to make Winston Cup and similar race cars much safer exists, they simply refuse to change anything about their money-making machine. I find it to be disgusting.
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Michael St. Clair

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Today Oriol Servia had an accident at a CART race which was somewhat like nothing I have ever seen. His car went nose down into gravel so directly and forcefully that his car was flipped forward 540 degrees, and only landed right-side-up because it happened to do a half twist at the same time. The impact into the gravel was likely the most dangerous part of the wreck, and probably stressed his head and neck harder than many fatal stock car accidents the last couple of years
Er, would have stressed his head and neck. He was wearing his HANS device.
Video: http://espn.go.com/media/2001/m10/rpm_011014os1v.avi
He escaped serious injury, but is under observation as is customary in such accidents.
[Edited last by Michael St. Clair on October 15, 2001 at 12:53 AM]
 

Jay H

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Ouch!!, that video looked sick? Looked like he was hit or hit a car and got lifted in such a way that he came nose down into the sand and then just got catapulted into the air.. Good thing he landed upright, most likely less stressful than if he landed upside down on the rollover protection bars.
Jay
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Michael St. Clair

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One of his wheels got over the wheel of another car, causing his car to literall 'jump' as it was headed towards the gravel.
 

CharlesD

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The word is that apparently Servier was NOT wearing a HANS at Laguna Seca.
I've never seen a crash quite like that one. It was pretty scary to watch and its amazing that he is OK, especially since he was not wearing a HANS. Luckily the construction of a CART car does allow for some absorbtion of the impact which probably did save him from a NASCAR type broken neck.
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[Edited last by CharlesD on October 15, 2001 at 10:49 PM]
 

Michael St. Clair

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Yesterday on ESPN they said he did indeed have a HANS device on.
Now Parker Johnstone is saying that he did not.
I'm in shock. Talk about your miracles.
 

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