Just a quick note regarding safety from your editorial in the February issue of Circle Track. I raced Late Models and Modifieds back in the '80s-'90s in the northeast, mostly at Thompson, Connecticut. I was lucky and only had one bad crash that left me with a broken foot, cracked ribs, 12 stitches over the eye, and a broken nose. The car was impounded by the DMV and was said to have been built safe, it was just an exceptionally hard hit straight into the wall. Having said that, had I been wearing a "HANS device" I would have not had the stitches, or broken nose. Anyone racing anything today that doesn't use one is just plain stupid!
This brings me to the main reason for writing, I moved to North Carolina some years back and still go to many of the local tracks in the area and I can't believe how many drivers are still out there without gloves—and I'm talking some big-buck teams with transporters as big as Cup teams, so I know it's not a money issue. All you drivers out there, or anyone that knows a driver that doesn't wear gloves, please get on them hard to wear them. How about in one of your upcoming issues you show some photos of drivers' hands after a fire? They're not pretty.
Remember: It's not easy to pick your nose with your elbow!
Keep up the good work.
—Roy Ethier; Newton, NC
Thanks for the letter. There is no question that a head-and-neck restraint is a vital part of your safety equipment for your racing program. Fortunately for the good of the sport and safety of our competitors, we have seen a marked increase in their use over the last 5 years. But, unfortunately, we see the same things that you do in North Carolina when we go to local short tracks around the country. Guys not wearing gloves, helmets not fitting properly, the list goes on, and much of that has to do with a sheer lack of education. With that said, Circle Track will continue to beat the safety drum and deliver valuable information month after month. And, in fact, next month's issue is our Giant Safety issue for 2014, so keep your eyes peeled you might just see a nasty burn picture in there.
Raped in the Name of Safety
I have been a subscriber for a lot of years and read every magazine from front to back. I was very surprised at the article in the Feb. '14 on the last page about "Better Racing Safety" by Jim Downing. I've been racing for 15 years. I run a Street Stock at a quarter-mile clay oval. I'm a "weekend warrior" as called by Jim. It amazed me how many fatalities in that article. But it amazes me more the cost of the head-and-neck restraint! It seems such a fine safety device that saves lives and is proven to save lives that us "weekend warriors" shouldn't be raped in the name of safety.
Everyone knows that racing revolves around money—not an infield, but money. It's a shame that we skimp on our safety equipment. But on the other hand, why do we have to be in that situation? I probably have about $1,500 in safety equipment that I wear. I've been saving and even have been looking for a used one. I want to get one, and need to get one, but like I said it's all about money. If they were $300 you would be amazed how many of us would have them! Thus keeping us "weekend warriors" out of those fatality stats.
—Darrell Langley; Ragley, LA
First off Darrell, we appreciate your long-term support of Circle Track. Many of our readers have been with us for years and we love hearing from you guys!
You hit the nail on the head when it comes to the cost of head-and-neck restraints. When they first came out, choices were limited and the cost was high. Even today there are some HNRs that retail for more than $1,000. That's steep for one piece of safety equipment and way out of reach financially for a majority of short track racers out there. Heck you can buy a good helmet, suit, and gloves and not break a grand.
With all that said as technological advancements continue to move forward and head-and-neck restraints become more accepted, the number of them sold should rise and correspondingly the costs should come down (remember when flat screen TVs cost 10 grand? Now you can buy them in Wal-Mart for $299). The good news is that those prices have come down. For example, all three of the major HNR manufacturers (Simpson, HANS, and Necksgen) have options for less than $600. Plus Simpson just introduced the Hybrid Sport Youth at PRI for kids and it retails for $399. Perhaps these manufacturers need to market their lower cost versions more aggressively.
Now, I get that that is still a chunk of change but some economy Snell SA2010 helmets have dipped to $179. Head-and-neck restraints will continue to become more economical and someday, everybody will have them just like firesuits and helmets...at least that's what we hope.
I have a subscription, thanks to Jim McFarland recommending me. He wrote an article about manifold design for the recent issue (The Manifold Features of Intakes, February 2014). I began reading it. Can you say, "house cleaning?" I knew you could. I read half of the article, and put the magazine down. I may have to resort to a house cleaning to find my copy, unless you can possibly email me a copy of his article.
—Peter Vorum; Fairborn, OH
Dang! Don't you just hate it when that happens? Check your email Peter and thanks for subscribing!