ASA On Leading Edge of Safety Technology
Thursday, April 29, 2004
During a morning briefing with safety workers at Atlanta Motor Speedway, American Speed Association (ASA) Safety Director Scott Isaacs held up a CO2 cartridge and displayed it to the paramedics.
He was greeted with a few puzzled looks. What did a CO2 cartridge have to do with treating injuries?
A lot, it turned out.
¿It could be the difference between life and death and not permanently injuring someone,¿ ASA owner Steve Dale said. ¿We call it our ¿hats-off¿ system.¿
The hats-off system consists of a regular helmet installed with a special bladder and hose. It costs about $20 and installs in less than five minutes.
¿The idea is that if a driver is involved in an accident and we need to get the helmet off quickly, we can attach the cartridge to a hose on their helmet, inflate the bladder and pull the helmet off without moving ¿ and risking further injury ¿ to someone with possible neck and back injuries,¿ Isaacs said. ¿It takes just a few minutes to train someone on how to work the device properly.¿
The ¿hats-off¿ system was voluntary last year, but it¿s now mandatory in the ASA series.
¿As a driver, you never really think about needing safety devices, but it¿s true that driving the ASA cars, I feel very safe,¿ said driver Kevin Cywinski, a two-time ASA champion. ¿ASA is really on the leading edge of safety. We just hope we don¿t have to test their systems too often.¿
Steve Dale said the hats-off system hasn¿t been needed for any on-track incidents so far, but he¿s glad to have the technology in place just in case.
The hats-off system is just one of the ASA series¿ many safety advances. The series already has safety director Isaacs, who travels to all races and tests. He also has a team of six that accompanies him, making ASA the first stock car sanctioning body to utilize a traveling safety team.
ASA was also among the first stock car series to mandate the use of head-and-neck restraint systems. Lexan windows, a common center section, the six-point harness, smaller fuel cells and the on-board audible alert system are just a few examples of ASA¿s other safety initiatives.
¿We feel good about being on the leading edge,¿ Dale said. ¿I hope that the racing community will view our initiatives as a positive step forward and other series will follow our lead in this area.¿