Wimmer has raced in NASCAR on the big tracks and at local short tracks and he believes that safety devices such as full containment seats and head and neck restraints should be universal regardless of what division you race. “They should be everywhere, I think in all divisions. I mean if you can’t, come on the stuff isn’t that expensive. If you can’t afford it you shouldn’t be racing. Some of these tracks should definitely have them mandated. I mean it’s just a safety deal.”
Ask most racers who wear head and neck restraints or opt for a full containment seat when they started to pay closer attention to safety in their cars and you’ll likely get the answer of February 18, 2001. Nathan Haseleu was racing for Roush that year. “I don’t remember if Roush mandated us to or whether they gave us the option, but I started wearing a head and neck restraint right away then just for safety reasons.”
Dale Earnhardt Sr’s death spawned a huge safety initiative across all of the upper traveling divisions of motorsports. However, as high profile of an event his passing was, not everybody was running to buy a head and neck restraint. Early models were big, bulky and restricted head movement of almost every direction except for straight ahead. But as time marched on, technology and innovations in the industry delivered more options thanks to new manufacturers entering the business.
09. A local racer checks out one of the newest players in the head and neck restraint bus
Still, some racers don’t like wearing head and neck restraints because they think they’re uncomfortable, Haseleu doesn’t see it. “Actually now a couple times I have gotten in the car and forgotten to put it on. It feels so different not to have it on I instantly realized what was wrong. It’s just common to have it on now. I think it’s a good safety thing to have.”
“We flipped the car over at Madison (International Speedway in Wisconsin) one time when I had it on. You know it wasn’t a sudden impact, it was hit the wall and roll over, but anytime you crash, anything you can do for safety is good.”
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?
“You know I learned a lot after that second wreck,” says Eilen. “Safety is something you don’t want to take for granted. Safety is the number one thing I think about when you’re going to a big fast track such as Iowa Speedway or even just your normal weekly shows. The littlest hit could be the biggest hit you’d ever think of.”