03. Jonathan Eilen ended up pancaking the wall with the driver’s side of his car in a 201
“I left Rockford feeling kind of numb, not for what happened but for what could have happened,” said Strasburg. “Mid-American started out as a Sportsman series…but racing has evolved. We’ve owned it for the last seven years and we’ve never had an incident like that before. Rockford was our wake-up call, after that incident we’ll be requiring it (head and neck restraints) at all races in 2013.”
“I’m 65 yrs old…been involved in racing all my life, you cannot sterilize the sport too much or you’re not going to have the racing we like to see. On the other hand you have to protect the competitors first and foremost.”
For as spectacular as the Corso-Holtz incident was, Jonathan Eilen’s 2010 crash at Hawkeye Downs Speedway in Iowa was the polar opposite, almost mundane. But it could have been devastating.
“It was the right hit at the wrong time,” says Eilen, referring to a crash in 2010 at Hawkeye Downs Speedway in Iowa. Hawkeye Downs isn’t a particularly fast track, even though it is a half mile in length. It’s a pretty flat track that requires heavy breaking into the corners. But that matters little when the panhard bar breaks and you spin around into the wall driver’s side first, which is exactly what happened to Eilen. Good safety equipment allowed him to emerge from the car relatively unscathed.
Choosing to wear a head and neck restraint and to invest in a full containment seat is one of the easiest things to do to ensure that you can continue to compete week after week, which is what we all want to be doing anyway right?
“The doctors said that all of my safety equipment definitely saved me a lot more than if I had substandard stuff. It was just a direct hit at the driver’s door,” said the ASA Midwest Tour driver. “The only thing that was going to stop the momentum was basically me. I did end up with a concussion out of it. They said basically the inside parts (of his body) moved because the impact of it was just so much.”
05. Strategically placed padding on the steering wheel and the steering column will also
Eilen’s experience is not at all out of the ordinary, local short track, good competition and nudge here and a bump there and somebody ends up in the wall. The resulting impact can cause a wide range of damage and the extent of that damage depends solely on the type of safety precautions you choose to take or not take prior to ever showing up at the track.
More and more, head and neck restraints as well as full containment seats are becoming accepted safety items at many of the nation’s short tracks. Prices for both are coming more within reach of the Saturday night racer making it more affordable for guys and girls to protect themselves during the heat of competition.
Go back a little over 12 years ago and that wasn’t really the case. “Back then safety was one thing I really didn’t think much of, but now-a-days I won’t get into a car if it didn’t have a full containment seat or if I didn’t have my head and neck restraint,” says Eilen. “I started wearing a neck restraint the year after Dale Earnhardt Sr. died at Daytona.”