An Update on Racing Safety

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					                                                     Running Healthy                                          with Dr. Jeremy Torstveit

                                        An Update on Racing Safety
                                           Disclaimer: I do not have a financial relationship with any medical facility, medical or racing products company, or pharmaceutical com-
                                           pany. If I did, I probably would go racing. I write this column as a service to my racing family, and besides being paid as a track
                                           physician consultant by NHRA, I have no other formal connection to the organization or any other company

                             was happy to represent
                             the drag racing
                          community at the annual
                                                                                       exit from the car; this has occurred several times,
                                                                                       once during a Funny Car fire. Safety Solutions’
                                                                                       system avoids this problem by having a low profile,
                                                                                                                                                                                          one for ages 12 to 15. Snell-certified CMS 2007
                                                                                                                                                                                          helmets are made by Bell and Arai. They are light-
                                                                                                                                                                                          weight, protective full-face helmets with special
                          International Council of                                     and according to several drivers, it is much more                                                  configuration for growing children. They cost about
Motorsport Sciences (ICMS) meeting, held July 28-30                                    comfortable than the old-style system.                                                             the same as other high-end helmets, so make it a
at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. As usual, the topics                                                                                                                                      birthday or Christmas present. The Bell KC3 Child
were widely varied and well-presented.                                                 Cost of equipment and the Sportsman racer                                                          Motorsports Helmet (CMH) can be viewed at
                                                                                          Professional racers should update to the new                                          
Tire shake presents potential serious injury                                           equipment. Sportsman racers in some of the Comp
    The highlight of the conference was Trevor                                         cars are already required to wear a restraint device,                                              Hearing protection
Ashline’s presentation of the research conducted on                                    but low-budget teams with slower cars should                                                          Custom-made hearing protection has many
side-to-side vibration (tire shake), and the subsequent                                consider skipping a couple of races to get a cockpit                                               advantages over generic earplugs or earmuffs.
modification of the driver’s compartment and driver                                    and restraint makeover. My fellow back-page                                                        Communication systems can easily be attached and
restraint systems that followed. I discussed some                                      columnist and Sportsman racer Bruce Deveau has                                                     other modifications can be made that will allow the
extrication issues during this presentation.                                           voiced concern to me about increasing tire shake                                                   wearer to keep them in their ears. Not only will you
    Until the tragic death of Eric Medlen, tire shake                                  problems in some of the “slower” classes, and                                                      hear better in loud situations but will also stop the
was considered a run breaker and a headache                                            considering how powerful many of these cars have                                                   progression of hearing loss that seems to come with
producer. John Melvin, Ashline (Safety Solutions                                       become, this shouldn’t be surprising.                                                              racing territory. To learn more about these systems,
Inc.), Kris Van Gilder (ISP Seats), and Dr. Paul                                          Door car drivers should consider getting driver                                                 contact Dawn Flinn, 317-514-9584; e-mail,
Bergman (Wayne State University) reported their                                        restraint nets like the one used by Jeg Coughlin and                                     
work in an SAE paper in 2008 but had already made                                      others. I doubt they will become compulsory in all
major changes to the driver compartment and                                            classes, but remember that safety specs are minimal                                                A note on swine flu
restraint system, which proved successful in                                           requirements. Do yourself a favor and get a consult                                                    Swine influenza (H1N1) vaccine is currently being
preventing head injuries in a similar accident.                                        from Safety Solutions (800-734-4404; Web site,                                                     tested. Preliminary reports seem to show a good
    Also reported in this presentation was the remarkable                     The company has                                                    antibody response with only one shot. The regular
improvement in head and neck restraint systems since                                   your cost concerns and special drag racing needs in                                                seasonal flu shot will also be needed. Unlike most
the original devices were employed. Safety Solutions cre-                              mind. It’s the whole package that needs to put                                                     influenzas, swine flu seems to affect younger people
ated a new design that has markedly reduced the G                                      together and be individually tailored to each driver.                                              more severely than older ones. Older people probably
forces in straight-line crashes and, by adding lateral teth-                                                                                                                              have some leftover immunity from previous swine-type
ers, has dramatically reduced angular G forces, which                                  Youth helmets                                                                                      flus that visited this country several decades ago. I
cause more brain damage than head-on crashes. Drivers                                      The first thing we were told as medical students in                                            have no reason to believe that the H1N1 vaccine won’t
who need more side-to-side mobility can opt for a sliding                              pediatrics is that children are not little adults. Until                                           be safe. The companies that manufacture these
tether system. This, combined with custom cage padding,                                recently, that fact was pretty much ignored when it                                                vaccines do it several times every year and are very
a change in seat configuration, and a change in number                                 came to racing helmets for kids. The number of young                                               good at it. Check with your doctor or clinic for more
and mounting of the belts, has made a major reduction                                  people — many under the age of 10 — participating in                                               info and to see if you are in a high-risk group. ND
in stress forces to which the driver would otherwise be                    
Description: [...] the tragic death of Eric Medlen, tire shake was considered a run breaker and a headache producer. Youth helmets The first thing we were told as medical students in pediatrics is that children are not little adults. [...] recently, that fact was pretty much ignored when it came to racing helmets for kids.
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