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All competitors need to read this article about FIA's Hubert Grambling work on the HANS devise and rallying.

The safety studies that have come from Mark & Roger's tragic accident has become the basis of the most important study on rally car safety to date. SCCA's Technical Manager, Performance Rally, Doug Robinson has been to some of the test described and can give better direct information on the results but it is fare to say that the outcome of these studies are very important to all competitors, teams and constructors. Doug and I have been confering on this matter for sometime and will be working in the future to coordinate our response to safety issues in the sport of stage rallying.

http://www.worldrallynews.com/artman/publish/article_531.shtml

Sincerely
John K. Shirley
President
NASA Rally Sport East
 

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straight at T
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Very interesting.

From the article:

At the moment, intercoms present the greatest snag. None of the usual systems are compatible with a HANS, because too much of the helmet lining has to be removed and F1-type earpieces are no good, because they might lead to ear infections on dusty rallies. Gramling isn?t happy with open-face mouthpieces either.

Also, when considering other devices like nets, I hope they are considering the ability of crews to extricate themselves when they are upside-down in water.

Adrian
 

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Interesting read for sure...I'm curious to see what ends up trickling down into actual rule changes and when.

...but since it's a slow day at work: The article makes mention of some other ideas being worked on, like bolting seats to the cage and nets within the cabin, which reminded me of NASCAR for some reason. In the quest to make it as "safe" as possible, data will surely suggest we should add all sorts of extra bars, replace some parts of the car with sturdier ones, add escape hatches, ejector seats, bear suits etc. While technically safer, I would think some of the 'character' of the sport would be lost in the process.

I guess my point is, at what point do we draw the line? I think the HANS is a good idea, that could be adapted to work in rallying without too much fuss. But rallying's excitement comes from that feeling of a "street" car flying down a forest road, risking life and limb just for the heck of it. How many rallying lives have been lost in the last 20 years? Compare that to the number of deaths from cosmetic surgury complications, vacation-bound airplane accidents, automobile accidents on the way to work, lightning strikes...there's lots of more dangerous things people do every day. We have a reasonable system of rules which keeps the vast majority of people safe the vast majority of the time, and they seem to enjoy it. When do we stop trying to protect people from themselves? ( These are people, after all, who get their kicks from hurtling themselves sideways on dirt roads at trees, rocks, exposures, babies...and are clearly all beyond help. :) )
 

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I can't believe I'm actually agreeing with some of what you said! Safety is an issue, but when you think that, according to the safety nazis, about 40,000 people die every year in traffic accidents, how low is our percentage, compared with the number of people involved in the sport. Just where DO you draw the line?

>>>>>It is thought that only one driver, decapitated by part of the roll cage, has broken his neck while using a HANS. >>>>

Am I missing something here? Is it only natural for the neck to be broken if a person is decapitated???????????
 

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I find the last paragraph interesting--about seats bolted to the cage.

I thought in road racing, they made a big deal about implementing a new rule change that if you used an FIA certified seat, you did not have to attach (or brace) the seat to the cage; it now appears attachement may still be safer.
 

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Not to mention the single biggest lethal epidemic in this country, obesity. Why are rallyists getting the scrutiny? After all, this is all voluntary risk-taking.

Is Joan Claybrook or Ralph Nader somehow involved here????}>
 

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If memory serves me correctly, there have been 8 deaths in the 32 year history of SCCA Pro/Club/Divisional Rally.

1982 Woolf/Wittaker
1982 Larry Newland (driver)
2000 Sandar Kovacs (co-driver)
2003 Lovell/Freeman

I don't recall the other two off the top of my head (two drivers if the Kovacs news release was correct).

Of these, how many would a HANS have prevented? The three in 1982 - the HANS would have done nothing to prevent the deaths. I don't know the details of the Kovacs incident. That leaves Lovell & Freeman. Here is a case that it may have prevented the deaths.

Now, how many situations have arisen where even a slight delay in getting out of the car would have made the difference? We may have prevented two, but did we cause two others in the process?

I'm all for the development and promotion of the HANS device and any other safety device that comes along. But don't make it mandatory unless there is a clear benefit to it without possible negative effects. I would recommend the use of a HANS device in the faster Open Class cars, but is there a benefit to the backmarker in the G2 car that justifies the expense to them. It's not just the cost of the HANS itself. It's also the belts, seats, helmets, and cage that makes it work. If all those things don't work together properly, then you can make the situation worse.

I hate to see anyone get hurt at a rally. But, RACING IS DANGEROUS. Plain and simple. No matter what safety measures you put in place, something is going to happen one day and someone will be killed. It's a horrible fact of life.

Tim
 

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I would not count last year's accident as one that may have been avoided with the HANS. It's effectiveness in an almost pure side impact has been proven to be minimal. there are some accidents that simply are NOT survivable. This was likely in this mentioned case.

Greg,
 

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>I find the last paragraph interesting--about seats bolted to
>the cage.
>
>I thought in road racing, they made a big deal about
>implementing a new rule change that if you used an FIA
>certified seat, you did not have to attach (or brace) the
>seat to the cage; it now appears attachement may still be
>safer.

I think that the implication is that seats would be DESIGNED to be attached to the cage. Current FIA seats are designed to NOT be attaced to the cage (i.e. they are designed for the stresses of being "free" rather than those of being "constrained").

Adrian
 

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I was invited to attend the second session of testing at Delphi in Ohio. Due to a schedule conflict I was unable to attend. Hubert and I have had several conversations regarding the tests, and the direction future safety concerns may go. Jeremy Thoennes was our representative at the tests. He and I have had an depth discussion about what was observed. All the tests are filmed with high speed cameras for review. The tests themselves happen so quickly that review is the only way to see what is taking place. It is unreasonable to expect any changes in the immeadiate future. All the data needs to be reviewed and analyzed. You will see some suggestions in the 2005 rule book, but they are only suggestions, and may or may not become requirements in the future. If you would like to discuss any safety issues you may have, feel free to call me at 800 770 2055 ext 350.
Doug
 

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With the FIA requirement, and more and more SCCA rally drivers going to the HANS (myself included), it won't be long before we start to see to some real world data on what it does and doesn't do in a rally situation. Based on this information the SCCA will most likely decide if they are going to require the HANS or other safety equipment. I don't see a knee jerk reaction here. Instead I see the SCCA recommending safety equipment and continually evaluating it's performance. Give it some time, the SCCA is.

My codriver talks about when he was on the PRB and they made everyone go from simply roll bars to actual roll cages. He was getting death threats and what not. Surely rally would die because no one could afford or want to put in full roll cages. Now twenty years later no driver would even think of running a stage at speed without a roll cage. It's a given. If the HANS does what we hope it will do, then twenty years from now we'll be talking about "Remember when we used to run without the HANS, that was crazy back then!"

Dennis Martin
[email protected]
920-432-4845
 

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Dennis Martin as the voice of reason - whoda thunk it? :)

Dennis, thanks for READING what was presented and THINKING about it, not making the instant emotional decision.

I consider even the most recalcitrant of you out there to be my friends, and I want you to be as safe as you can. I can't buy the argument that because it's more dangerous per passenger mile to take a bath that we shouldn't investigate new safety items. If we follow that logic to its conclusion, we wouldn't have cages, harnesses or helmets.

I'd also rather be proactive about safety, rather than waiting for a friend to die before I take action.

Bruce
 

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I agree that safety is paramount, but again, where do you draw the line? What's next, air bags, reduce hp to 100, restrict top speed to 50mph, no rallying on roads with trees in close proximity, etc, etc, etc.
 

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>If memory serves me correctly, there have been 8 deaths in
>the 32 year history of SCCA Pro/Club/Divisional Rally.
>
>1982 Woolf/Wittaker
>1982 Larry Newland (driver)
>2000 Sandar Kovacs (co-driver)
>2003 Lovell/Freeman

1994? Rosemary Trindle, Co-driver in NW

Certainly if my Father had had Hans on while practicing he would have walked away from his accident.
 

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I have been using the HANS device since the start of my 2004 season and I have some educated and real world experiences to mention. For some background - currently run a 2002 WRX in PGT/P4 with a FIA approved Prodrive/WRC designed cage. Ran New York, STPR, Baie and MFR so far this year wearing the HANS device.

Ralph Kosmides and I have a number of conversation about using this as well but I am not going to speak for him. Here are my thoughts:

1) Its difficult for me to get in/out of the car with the helmet hooked to the device. I typically do not hook it up until 2 minutes before we start the stage.

2) It SLIGHTLY impedes my hard left and right head movement only when I have to look almost 90 degress either way. For example - coming up to a T intersection on a transit its hard to check right and left. But then I disconnect the device once I leave the stage so its not an issue.

3) I use a Peltor helmet. The installation of the anchor nuts did not cause me to remove any insulation. Other than the holes in the helmet there were no other modifications.

4) At STPR this year we rolled the car towards the end of the day on Saturday. On a flat right 3 we lost traction and rolled over on my side down a hill. We tapped a tree slightly at the front on the co-drivers side as we started to roll but there wasnt any massive deceleration. After releasing our belts we got out through the my door and I still had the helmet hooked to the device so there wasnt any issue with me getting out. We did get out quickly since we where concerned about a possible fire.

Overall I don't feel the device while driving - it doesn't add to the fatigue factor and is only a minor inconvenience getting it on/off or connected. But the possible benefits in a high speed impact far out way any minor convenience.

I don't know what Doug and the PRB are considering regarding safety changes but I won't do a stage again without wearing it.

Everyone has heard adage "If you got a $75 head buy a $75 dollar helmet". Well keeping my head attached to my neck is worth the roughly $1000 I spent on it.

My thoughts
-Tim
 

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I appreciate that the powers that be are actually studying the problem before requiring a solution.

However, are they looking at all of the potentials risks, assigning priorities, and looking for solutions? Or, has someone or some group found the HANS device religion and now "know" that it is the way to make us all safe?

Personally, I am more concerned about side impact intrusion into the car than I am concerned that I will be in an accident where a HANS device would make a difference. As a matter of fact, that was my primary concern (recalling the stumps and exposure in the route book) as I was in Tim Paterson's rolling Evo at the Shitepoke ClubRally this year.

HANS devices may be an answer.

Or, they may just be moving the problem from injuries like basal skull fractures to injuries like brain trauma/closed head injuries.

Or, they neither harm nor help in most rally accident situations. Rally accidents are different from open-wheel racing accidents.

But it sounds like Doug is taking a reasonable approach to it.

alan

BTW, it is funny that the worldrallynews article mentions the Gonzalo Rodriguez CART accident. I was there covering the race for motorsport.com and one of our photographers got one of the few shots (maybe the only shots) of the car after the accident and before the e-crew arrived and covered the car up. The article notes that it was a 61g impact. What they didn't note was that the car, an open-wheel car (no roof), flipped over a billboard above the tire wall that it hit and landed upside down in the dirt behind the billboard. The dirt had some give when the car came down on its roll hoop, so the hoop didn't work as intended. What I am trying to say is that there were other contributing factors in his death.
 

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I don't understand the hyperfocus on the HANS device. The designer of the HANS device has been very clear that it was not designed for rallying and that another approach might be needed to account for the greater chance of lateral impacts. Or at the very least I read that somewhere!

I am not privvy to the intimate details but I would have thought a Recaro 99 SP-G or SP-A may have saved Freeman's life before a HANS device would have. Of course that's not to say rally cars don't hit objects head on either.

I think also Recaro has recently released a model of the SP-G compatible with the HANS device. (Pro Racer SP-G HANS)
http://www.recaro-nao.com/produkte/INHALT_DETAIL.asp?mkt=&seg=RACE&prodID=34

They've also released an XL (wide-ass) version of the SP-G. I might consider it for my car.

Glenn
 

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Glenn,
Good points. I don't think anyone will say that the HANS is rally specific, or "made for rallying." It's not. That's not to say it's a NASCAR or F-1 device either. It's designed to work in frontal and slightly off angle crashes.

I know that none of us ever hits anything that way! ;-)

So, the HANS is specific protection for a specific type of accident. Enough said.

Keeping crews' heads, arms and legs from hitting each other and the car is the next order of business. That's where side head restraint seats and interior nets between driver and co-driver come in. I've heard from at least one seat company, whose president is an ex-New Zealand rally champ, that in-car footage of rally accidents reveals the need for at least one side-head restraint seat in the car.

When I can find one that will fit my posterior, I'll put one in. My co-driver has a Sparco S-Circuit.

I don't know how interior nets would work in our car. We have a coupe and I wonder if access to the rear seat would be an issue. I'll certainly consider them when I hear more about them.

I'll echo Tim P's comments that the HANS was unobstrusive on stage. I too released it on transits. Won't ride without it again.

Cheers! John
 
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