2009 Stewards Proposal #19: SFI Belt Expiry

It was not made as a personal attack, or statement of anything other than what I said. There is no reason for anyone to put themselves in a position, be it here, or at work, or anywhere they feel personally in a position of possible harm, be it economical, or physical.

I usually think before I say something..... but then again. the mouth does run away from me at the most unpredictable times.......

And I do so respect all of those current and past, and future Club and Conference position holder. And THAT is no BS, Joke, or yard of crap. In other words, I truely do mean it.
When I started reading this thread I thought like some, keep it the way it is. One of the things that I liked about Conference was the 5 year rule. ( Didn't know about the FIA belts being 5 year) Lesson learned more research next time.

Rich already did a little cost analysis, 2 sets of FIA or 5 sets of SFI for ten years of racing. I bought my current SFI belts for $140, yet could have gotten FIA belts for $200. If I continued to buy the same belts it would be $700 for ten years of racing. Still not that much, a little more than 1 set of tires. However buying FIA, that's $400 for ten years. Probably spend more money on oil in those ten years. Even having Crow re-certify the belts, $140 for the belts, $180 for 4 re-certification, $320 total not including shipping.

So FIA seems the logical way to go if you are thinking about this economically, although this was using a camlock SFI, there's cheaper out there. My dad always says, there's not reason to skimp when it comes to safety equipment. Doesn't mean you have to pay top dollar for equipment.

I agree that belts should last more than 2 years, and if the rumor about SFI using sailboat lines is true, well then that's completely ridiculous. I think its more than ridiculous, its unacceptable. Without seeing any data though its hard to know.

solution for me, buy FIA
...So FIA seems the logical way to go if you are thinking about this economically, although this was using a camlock SFI, there's cheaper out there...... Without seeing any data though its hard to know. solution for me, buy FIA

Willans 6 point camlock 5 year life $299 to $329

Simpson 6 point camlock 2 year life $260

About $50 more and over twice the life.

Go figure.
Hey Steve - were you agreeing or disagreeing with me on that tire example? (Really, I'm kind of confused and I have been working for about 14 hours and it is getting late.)

I'm hoping you were agreeing with me because if you think that example supported a rule change on seatbelts YOU NEED TO PUT DOWN THE CRACK PIPE. (hehe)

First, my response was only a poor attempt at humor targeted at Randy for leaving himself on the hook for wanting safety protection for a one in a kajillion chance of liability.

I count Randy (and Wes and yourself and lots of others here for that matter) as friends or at least friendly acquaintences who I look forward to seeing at the track. Randy was kind enough to call me earlier and ask that I re-read one of my posts that came off a little more personal and a bit less fair than I like to think I am so I edited it accordingly. I thought it would be nice to follow up by telling him he was 100% wrong just for fun.

Anyway I actually like your example much better, because it nearly pefectly reinforces my arguement.

1) More people have suffered damage to their cars or harm to their persons because of tire failures than will ever be injured due to expired belts. We trust drivers to make decisions on how much air they want in their tires without supervision but want to tightly control a safety item that has never caused a documented injury to one of our members in decades of use. Where is the statistical sense in that?

2) If you try to pass a rule that controls the air pressure in my tires I will definitely vote against it ........ along with everyone else in Conference. Is that what you are suggesting we do with the seatbelt rule?

3) Your conclusion is flawed. The investigation takes place BEFORE the widow is paid. First choice in the scenario you described would be the insurance company telling her that they aren't going to pay because her husband flagrantly disregarded the warning provided by the tire manufacturer. Gross negligence, not an accident. Oops! Responsibility falls right back on the person who made the decision in the first place, where it belongs.

4) Possibly, the widow then pursues her legal options and wins a lawsuit from a sympathetic jury who feels bad for a woman who just lost her husband. Warning wasn't visible enough, or strongly worded enough, or they just like the way she looks. Insurance company has to pay, but next in line is? Surprise, surprise - insurance companies usually don't go after those who are most likely at fault. They go after anyone involved who has the best ability to pay. Typically the lawsuit names anyone with assets that could have concievably been involved that day. Tire manufacturer, car manufacturer, fuel cell manufacturer, suit manufacturer, brake manufacturer, track management, sanctioning body, mechanic or prep shop that worked on the car, other drivers, announcer, track caterer, guys who sell race fuel - I think you get the picture. What ends up happening is if they name enough people, everyone will come up with $20,000 so they can pool their money and settle out of court rather than spend $100,000 defending themselves in a trial. Lawyers know that - that is why they do it!

5) Yes - in your example the drivers of Conference were correct in "standing up for their right to spend their racing dollars as they choose". What you are describing is drivers deciding how to most wisely spend dollars that they KNOW they are going to spend as opposed to throwing their money at an incident that is extremely unlikely to ever happen. When the crazy dude peeing in the winebottle in the alley tells you that all your money will turn to scorpions at 4:00 pm in the afternoon, do you quickly give it all to him because if there is even the slightest chance of him being right you sure don't want a pocket full of scorpions? Dude, do whatever you want with your money but don't include me in your crazyness. I'm going to need more than just a little story to empty out my wallet. For the last 17,385 days I've been alive my money has never turned to scorpions and I don't expect today to be any different. If you want me to believe, you are going to have to prove it to me.
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Rick and I have been e-mailing each other offline, but I think it makes sense to post part of a recent message to him, here:

The point you and a few others have been missing is NOT that we need to change the rule for SAFETY'S sake, but simply to minimize the "low-hanging fruit" of an ICSCC rule that is different from the SFI's rating in the event of a lawsuit of ANY kind.

This was the point Adare made in the spring, it's the point Randy was making, it's the point I've been trying to make, and it's the point Mike made yesterday. I don't think my FIA-rated belts are safer than SFI-rated belts. For that matter, I don't think it makes any sense from a safety standpoint that I'll have to replace my FIA belts after next season, even though they've spent almost have their life unused and all their time not at the track indoors in a heated garage.
This thread is running away; the rhetoric is thick, the broken analogies starting, and it can't be long before Goodwin's Law is again proven.

I don't feel passionately about the rule, but I do hope it passes because I think it protects Conference specifically, and club racing as whole.

I feel compelled to point out that I'm taken aback by the angry reactions in some of the posts here. The lack of respect shown to others, particularly the people who are volunteering to run these events for you, is appalling and demotivating. If you have a difference of opinion, that's fine; express it like a gentleman instead of a spoiled child.

While it's possible that these changes are just a play for money, I just don't see it that way. The extortion theory is based on the supposition that the engineers, officials, and vendors are conspiring to deliberately and maliciously game the system to their own combined benefit, a couple hundred bucks of revenue per couple of years, per belt set.

Nobody here has presented a shred of evidence to support the damaging claims they're making about the professionals and volunteers involved in the collusion that they allege. To earnestly support such claims with the rhetoric and venom that's appearing here is, in my belief, a reprehensible act of hubris and disingenuousnes.

I'm as skeptical as the next guy, perhaps unhealthily so. But there's no way that I'd impugn the character of dozens of people, whole organizations, and companies by publicly making claims like those here, without at least a little bit of hard evidence. That people can call into question the integrity of others so haphazardly, over the issue of spending a couple hundred bucks on safety equipment, is not something that I expected when working up this proposal.
"Without the least little bit of hard evidence" - Exactly so.

My entire problem with this rule is not it's intent, or whether it is morally, financially, ethically, politically, or even emotionally right or wrong. I can't make those decisions because no one will produce the criteria they based this decision on.

It is that we are expected to believe our safety will be enhanced, our liability reduced, and our future brightened "without at least a little bit of hard evidence."

"Nobody here has presented a shred of evidence to support the damaging claims they're making" that belts have lost their effectiveness after two years.

I don't know enough to turn this into a conspiracy. The burden of proof is always on the seller, not on the buyer - basic principle of business and you know it. If anyone isn't willing to justify the value of what they are selling, I am certainly not going to buy.

(I would feel bad if I left it at a well reasoned response using your own terms, but lacking mean spiritedness. Referring to other posters as spoiled children is not exactly leading by example, as a matter of fact it makes you like Hitler. There! Done! Woohoo! I win!)
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My entire problem with this rule is not it's intent, or whether it is morally, financially, ethically, politically, or even emotionally right or wrong. I can't make those decisions because no one will produce the criteria they based this decision on.
I think you gave up too early. You've posted here more than almost anyone else, but you only asked SFI once.

When we presented this issue at the Spring meeting, Lance put together a packet including the research he had done. Unfortunately, I no longer have my copy. (I think my own copy got mixed in with the handouts at the meeting and I gave it away.) Maybe you can contact your club's E-board member to see if they have a copy, or perhaps Lance can make the materials available.

It is that we are expected to believe our safety will be enhanced, our liability reduced, and our future brightened "without at least a little bit of hard evidence."
There is no evidence about the future; it hasn't happened yet.

Other people have more appropriately asked for evidence that aged belts contribute to damages in impacts. I'm not sure there will be much evidence, since all the racing organizations I know of don't allow the use of aged belts. Since so few people are running them, there's not much population to examine. There's also the problem of causality; there's not enough of a sample to make a general comparison, and there's no way to perform comparisons between a control and an experiment group because of the high variance in accident parameters. Further, there are no standards for investgiation, an organization to investigate incidents, and no mechanism for determining cause and effect. Some higher levels of racing have these features, but club racers don't.

"Nobody here has presented a shred of evidence to support the damaging claims they're making" that belts have lost their effectiveness after two years.
It's been repeatedly presented that the reduced strength of the belts is not the core issue. As Scott explained, this is about risk management. Conference doesn't cerify belts, or any other safety equipment; we have the experts at SFI and FIA do it--along with Snell in the case of helmets.

The real problem is the concern of liability regarding loss which may be traced to the use of equipment against the recommendation of the certifying agency. Going against best practice in an established industry not only says that you know better than the experts in that industry, but implies that you're willing to accept the results of that decision.

The rule book is full of risk management issues: long pants in hot areas, paddock speed limits, and so on.

Our ability to properly manage our risk is something that helps us race continuously and affordably.
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Mike really just said it...

It is that we are expected to believe our safety will be enhanced, our liability reduced, and our future brightened "without at least a little bit of hard evidence."

I don't believe for a SECOND that my safety will be enhanced nor my future will be any brighter, Rick... but I DO believe that we have to conform to the
SFI recommendation to reduce our liability. I DON'T agree that it makes any
scientific sense at all- I hit the wall in t9 with 4- year- old SFI belts, and my video shows
that they did their job just fine.

But we gotta get our 'low hanging fruit' out of the reach of the lawyers-
my health insurance was sniffing around for people to sue after I needed a
few stiches to the tune of $350. Imagine how interested they'd be in a
claim 10 or 20 times that size...

heh heh... fruit... heh heh... hanging... heh...

(good grief, already, check your lugnut length)

Mike, you also just made an assumption about me "without at least a little bit of hard evidence."

As stated earlier in this endless thread, I most certainly did not contact them once. I have now contacted them three times by phone, twice by e-mail and recieved a package from them in the mail in addition to having an identical one sent to Kevin Skinner. It is certainly not that I haven't tried. I've never talked to anyone who has any idea about the actual tests involved just a nice woman who tries to help me but has been unable to transfer me to someone who can tell me what I want to know or give me a description or paperwork detailing the age testing.

Any reputable group that tests products using scientific methods has to go through some pretty standard steps. It starts with a group of people with the requisite knowledge base deciding on the parameters that they think are essential for a product to meet. They then design a set of tests to verify that the product meets those parameters. If you look at the details of the testing for all of the other properties involved that they very willingly sent me, then all I want is the detail of the last specification for aging that was omitted. My expectation is that they would run their test series on a brand new set of belts, then do an accelerated aging simulation on those belts, then run them through the same test battery again and determine the degradation based on the resulting measurements. I have no eveidnce that this happened. I'm not drawing any conclusions as to the benefits or detriments of belt aging. I can't without knowing what I'm talking about and neither can you! My company runs accelerated age tests on our products all the time and I have no problem with them. All I need is verification that some appropriate tests were even done and I wouldn't have posted ONCE.

All I require is some information about the testing procedure that was used to estimate useful belt life. If someone at Conference had it and didn't save it to convince the voting driver members who control this club then they must not have wanted it to pass. You support it? Fine, give me the information you saw so I can support it too. Surely you didn't decide to support it without seeing that it provided a benefit did you? Just because your buddy's sanctioning body jumps off a bridge wearing two year old belts, you aren't going to jump off with him are you? I took the EXTRA step of trying to get the information myself so I could SUPPORT this rule in good conscience. If I would have recieved this simple thing, I would have shared it with everyone so they could vote in an informed fashion and my guess is that there would have been little or no opposition to it.

Instead this is turning into an opportunity to take punishment because I dislike the idea of being asked to do things for no reason other than you want me to. The strength of your celebrity endorsement just isn't enough for me. Our rulebook IS full of risk management issues. Some I agree with, some I think go too far and some that don't go far enough. Every one of them should be open to intelligent informed review to maximize safety while striking an appropriate balance with minimizing impact to those participating.
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I hadn't checked this thread for awhile.. So...

As per my original question, so far I haven't heard any valid evidence that there has ever been issue concerning expired belts either causing harm to people (the only real reason for safety regulations) or financial harm to an organization or the officials of that organization.

I propose that the belt rule be changed back to what it had been in years past. Specify the minimum width, thickness, material, and no visible defects.
Perhaps a valid reason, but certainly not the only real reason.

Just because you haven't heard of any harm, doesn't mean it hasn't happened, or can't happen.

If you would like to write the rule so that it reads something along the lines of "SFI belts are good as long as (fill in your name here) says so", I will fully throw my support behind you.

I personally could care less about the validity of the SFI test, or any possible profit motive.

I just care about an easily interpreted rule that protects the people with skin in the game, with little additional burden over our current indefensible position.

Sometimes I feel like english is my second language.
Randy, good point. Just because I don't have any knowledge of some event occurring doesn't prove it hasn't. But no one else in this thread has heard of it happening either. That's why I asked.

So I'm being totally ridiculous but how many people on the planet need to be surveyed before we could come to a reasonable conclusion?

Doesn't me signing a waiver giving up all right to legal action pretty much cover conference and the officials in the case that anything non-healthy happens to me? (I assume so)

If we made a rule that new belts are required every time the car enters the track, would that keep insurance companies from pursuing any and all options available to them? (No)

I'm not purposely trying to be difficult, just trying to gather information and be realistic. I certainly don't want to ever make our officials legally liable for unforeseeable racing incidents, or negligence on the part of participants.
I don't have a particular issue with this rule. I understand both points of view and whatever we decide to do... at least it has been with some healthy discussion. Unlike the unilateral decisions handed down by other organizations.

What irritates me is that if you look at the SFI spec, it states the belts must be recertified every two years. Not that they expire, just that the certification is up (big difference -- documentation vs physical abilities) And then to "see the manufacturer of that belt for recertifying". Fine, so then I check out G-forces website.. "Sorry we can't recertify, but we can reweb, which updates your certification".

It seems like what has happened is that SFI is scared of litigation so they develop some criteria in order to cover their own asses. Then the manufacturers realize that they haven't covered their own asses either. So we get stuck with the blunt end of the results of bad engineering and risk management analysis.

I'm not saying we shouldn't pass this rule, but I think we can all agree that SFI has really let down the community that they are supposed to support.