ICMS AT PRI – UPDATING MOTOR SPORTS SAFETY

The 2010 International Council of Motorsports Sciences Annual Congress was held in association with the annual trade show in Orlando put on by Performance Racing Industry for the industry of motorsports – which is not an auto show.

ICMA Presenters

Left to right: Peter Wright, FIA Institute, Dr. Terry Trammel, Dr. Hugh Scully, chairman of the ICMS, and Dr. Stephen Olvey. Photo by Steve Essig.

This year’s ICMS Congress drew a large attendance of very diversified, learned, prominent movers & shakers, inventors and forefathers/mothers of Motor Sports Safety. They came from four continents – North and South America, Europe and Asia. Among the countries represented were: Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Sweden, the United Kingdom and other European countries.

Despite the Congress being publicized by PRI, it was not open to any but ICMS members, as some of the presented material was proprietary, and part of the value for the members was being able to discuss among themselves and have it remain confidential. What happens in ICMS stays in ICMS.

I was fortunate to be able to speak afterwards to some of the presenters

DR HUGH SCULLY, Chairman of ICMS since 1998 and Chairman of the 2010 Curriculum Committee said “The event has gone well. We’ve gotten good feedback.”

Dr. Scully, who has been the Medical Director for F1, CART and IRL in Canada, also participated in the PRI Annual Round Table Wednesday afternoon, before going back to the Congress for closing remarks.

DR TERRY TRAMMELL, noted orthopedic surgeon and consultant, long-time member of CART Medical Services and consultant to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for 14 years is one of the founders of ICMS. He was a member of the 2010 ICMS Curriculum Committee. Trammell said “The Congress has really gone very well. well, with no glitches. We had some of the best papers we’ve had over the years. The breadth and depth was best ever.

“It has been very helpful to be working with PRI in conjunction of its well-known show, using its facility with all that brings, and getting its promotion of our event at their event.

“Having our annual winter Congress in Orlando fits in with our plan of going to warm places.” That was intended as a joke as Florida was experiencing near-freezing weather this week. “It wasn’t as warm this year as we had hoped.

“We’ve been focusing on Driver Safety, and the idea is to share information with the end users. Here at PRI there are all the manufacturers and distributers of Safety Equipment. ICMS is focusing on the young drivers. Here at PRI this weekend is the RRDC (Road Racers Driving Club) Third Annual RRDC/FIA Young Drivers Symposium – “Safe Is Fast” – which is funded by a grant from the FIA Motor Sport Safety Development Fund. Part of that seminar will be an ICMS Presentation by Trammell and DR. STEVE OLVEY on Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and What To Look For In A Helmet.”

DR JAQUES DALLAIRE is a founding member of ICMS, founder of Human Performance Institute and now primary consultant and chief scientist for Dallaire Consulting LLC – an organization designed to enhance performance enhancement activities in motorsports and now in the corporate world as well.

Dallaire’s topic was Mind Games: How they can affect performance. “There is a direct relationship between mental ability and physical fitness. It takes physical energy to maintain mental focus.

“Among the things which factor in to detract a race driver from mental focus are dehydration, fatigue, weather, and degradation of the car such as worn tires, accident damage, etc. These conspire to cause the driver to make poor decisions at the end of the race – possibly the time when more decision-making mistakes are made.

“This phenomena isn’t limited to just drivers, but also to the Emergency Response crews and the Teams-Pit Crews….it’s a universal truth.

“Intensity of focus is inversely proportional to duration. How long can a high intensity focus be maintained without fatigue? In other words, the higher the needed focus, the shorter the duration we can sustain at that level without fatigue. Often racers refer to a loss of focus as brain fade.

“The control of focus is the key issue. Maintaining focus means controlling the direction of the focus, based on the activities of that moment when they are called on to perform. Focus on the right thing at the right time.

“Environmental challenges cause us to shift/change our focus sometimes to the wrong things.

“Drivers have to be focused for the entire race – while in the car. Fully loaded at all times.

“Pit Crews have intermittent focus, just before, during, and just after a Pit Stop. In between Pit Stops, the Team can have relative rest stops. The mental load is more distributed.

“Emergency Response Teams may or may not be called to respond to an emergency any time during the race, so they have to be fit, at the ready at all times but at a lower level of intensity … while being ready to Go when the situation arises i.e. being involved in a rescue.

A good analogy is in law enforcement such as a SWAT/hostage situation, where the wait can be for hours for the Go Mode.”

JERRY KAPROTH is NASCAR’s Safety Coordinator and Safety Analyst at the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord NC. Race incident investigation and assisting in accident reconstruction are among his responsibilities. He spoke on Pit Lane Safety, a subject continuously reviewed and developed.

Klaproth identifies, reviews, and discusses racing incidents, which is an ongoing process.

Track Safety Meetings are held before each NASCAR races, conducted by MIKE PHILLIPS, NASCAR Track Services.

Among the developments in NASCAR (as well in other racing series) has been mandatory wearing of fire suits and helmets for the Race Officials and the Over The Wall Pit Crews. Pit Road speed is electronically monitored. No more than three stalls prior can be entered by a driver before reaching his/her own stall. Controlling the tires by the crew over the wall was a big focus this season, which meant among other things that the hook was no longer allowed.

NASCAR adopted a rule this year to take effect next year – reducing by one the number of Over The Wall crew members per stall, going from six to five. Each crew member has a specific function with the correct equipment.

The catchcan will no longer be acceptable. NASCAR will go to a self-vented closed fueling system. It is a new cell, to minimize leakage.

NASCAR Race Control communications to Pit Lane have improved. There are 46 NASCAR Race Officials on Pit Road during a race. One firefighter with equipment is attached to each pit stall, and there are three others who roam.

NASCAR as well as most road racing series world wide mandate wheel tethers. The American exception is NHRA. In NASCAR they are made of woven Vectron, built by Doug Emick and SFI approved. There are only two companies in the world which make wheel tethers – the other company is Future Fibers in Spain.

NASCAR requires dual wheel tethers, which are very small in diameter but very strong – 36,000 pounds of force for duals, 18,000 pounds for singles.

ARNIE KUHNS, President/CEO of SFI for the past 26 years, elaborated on the NASCAR tethers. NASCAR also mandates tethers on the roof hatch, rear spoiler, and did so for wings, before they were removed from the stock cars.

Tethers are required in many racing series including F1 and IndyCar. They are not yet mandatory on the NHRA parachutes. Kuhns is helping to take the NASCAR tether technology to NHRA parachutes. Tethers are, however, required in NHRA Funny Cars on the explosion panel for pressure release.

SFI was established to issue and administer standards for specialty/performance automotive and racing equipment. Many sanctioning bodies require certain safety equipment and race-related items to have a certain SFI rating. SFI has more than 100 safety standards for over 100 sanctioning bodies.

Kaproth later shared a presentation on Barrier and Debris Fence Research with HUBERT GRAMLING of the FIA Institute.

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