Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 6, Page

No Excuses! Wear A Head & Neck Restraint

By Glen Grissom
Photos by Ian Tocher
Illustrations: Courtesy HANS Performance Products

You should be wearing a HANS or other SFI 38.1-certified head and neck restraint when you drag race. No excuses. Even amateur racing associations are starting to mandate them for racers. For example, the BMW CCA has put in their rulebook that all racers must use a head and neck restraint meeting SFI 38.1 beginning April 1, 2006.  Although the NHRA has other SFI specifications for car construction, etc. in its rulebook, why has it not made head and neck restraints mandatory?

Writer’s Note: As part of DRO’s ongoing selfish campaign to help keep racers informed and alive and well so we can keep writing for you, we offer this comprehensive sit-down with Dr. Bob Hubbard, and former Mazda factory racer and winner of the Rolex 24 hours at Daytona, Jim Downing – the inventors of the HANS safety device. I met with them at the NHRA Southern Nationals, where they were observing and offering advice to drag racers on their product and racing safety.

The HANS has become the dominant head and neck restraint specified in almost all major motorsports, yet the NHRA still has not mandated its use in its rulebook, and drag racing is really the last “frontier” for its widespread use. Take heed of what these two racing safety experts have to say and protect yourself, even if your sanctioning body won’t. – Glen Grissom

What brings you to the Atlanta race?

Jim Downing (L) and Dr. Bob Hubbard were at the NHRA Southern Nationals in Atlanta examining the use of their product and how they can help it get more use in drag racing.

Dr. Bob Hubbard: Our factory is nearby, and it was a good opportunity to check out how our product is working in this racing. We’re interested in seeing if there are any problems we need to address with the drivers here, and help people understand how to use the HANS device. Also we’re looking at little issues about fit in the car; getting in and out of the car. Those are issues we have seen in a lot of other cars in other series as well.

That [fitment] was a common issue brought up to us when implementing them in NASCAR. We worked with the drivers on familiarity, and worked to make sure the cockpits were designed so that the HANS will fit in comfortably -- get the belts mounted in the right place. But these are all issues we’ve faced in other racing venues, so it’s just a question of getting over these “use” hurdles.

Have you talked to any of the “average” drag racers here, like bracket racers, or have you been mostly working among the pro classes?

Hubbard: We’ve been dealing mainly with the top-level racers, but we’re willing to talk with anybody. We have several people here that use our product.

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