But even when you have good equipment you can still get hurt. “I broke my back at Cedar Rapids, Iowa a few years ago. It was a hard hit and it was amazing just how bad the seat got crushed. The experience of breaking your back and coming back through it isn’t worth it. Before my wreck I had a full containment seat and all the good stuff and I still had a HANS device and I still got hurt. The guys from LaJoie (Joy of Seating) and Butlerbuilt told me the same thing, you are trying to stop a round object using a square box, it’s just not possible. Something is going to give, something is going to break. So I had custom ISP seat molding added to my seat so that now you’re almost completely encapsulated.”

Eilen says that safety is something you don’t want to mess around with. “If you gotta spend $10 less for a part for your car and spend $10 more on a safety device it’s well worth it in the long run. When you aren’t able to walk or have a serious issue or something from wreck that’s the way I look at it.”

“After my Hawkeye Downs wreck, they said I probably would have had more injuries if I wasn’t wearing a head and neck restraint. Obviously the safety devices are what saved a good majority of it; full containment seat, roll bar padding, everything. They even told me you might want to try a different sport. I said no I am going to go back to the drawing board and go back to make sure I have all the right stuff I need to have. As much as I like doing it, I want to be as safe as possible. The technology that has come since Earnhardts deal has completely turned around, and its just amazing how much safer these cars are and how much safer it is to actually race. I feel more comfortable knowing that if something were to happen, I would be safe enough to walk away.

And the doctors said without your head and neck restraint you might not be standing here

“At Lacrosse a couple years before that I actually hit the wall. The throttle stuck and basically the same thing I got a concussion out of it. And the doctors said without your head and enck restraint you might not be standing here. With that kind of hit, it’s not something you want to take lightly.”

Like Eilen, long time racer Chris Wimmer won’t get in a race car without the best in safety equipment. And like Eilen, he started wearing a head and neck restraint in 2001. “In 2001, I had a Hutchins Device. Right after Dale Earnhardt’s accident everything got real serious and I was running the ASA National Tour back then and they mandated head and neck restraints, so I went with the Hutchins.”

Wimmer would eventually switch to a HANS device after a stint in NASCAR’s Truck Series. But the Wisconsin native has been one of the luckier racers. “I have been fortunate enough that I haven’t wrecked real bad with either of them so I haven’t been able to test them yet.”

Even though Wimmer hasn’t had the same experiences as Eilen he has some very definite views on safety. “The technology is just amazing. I was looking at some pictures of my old racecars and just within the last five years cars have come a long way safety wise. Especially with the seats, I mean there shouldn’t be anyone without a full containment seat. Even in the lower divisions they should have them. They definitely save a lot of accidents. They are built really well and can absorb a lot of the impacts.”