Question about a Proposed Rule Change for 2011

I do not have one. I run on a tight budget for now. My money goes to other priorities, at least for now. I plan to get one soon.

We complain about the entry numbers dwindling and if this become mandated you effectively reduced my ability to enter two races. If you want to question the competitive nature of a persons car I do not see the relevance. I run it as fast as it can go, and will improve it as my budget allows. Questioning the safety of it is also of no relevance because the cars are tech'd before a race. Am I taking a risk? Yes, but racing is a risk. Do the HANS and similar devices reduce this risk? Of course they do. Does how fast my car goes have any bearing on the risk factor, well somewhat maybe, but severe injury can occur at low speeds in the paddock. Just the right circumstances for severe injury may be realized simply falling out of bed. I believe and try hard to keep my blood inside my skin.

It boils down to freedom of choice. If ICSCC's drivers want to mandate that each driver will be required to purchase one that is the the wonderful thing about ICSCC. It is drivers for drivers. Don't let it become drivers for the insurance company. I will get one as soon as I can afford to and still meet the needs of my family. Or, I can simply not enter two races for the year and listen to the complaints, mine being one of them.
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From Rick the Conference Racer:

Just repeating flawed logic a thousand times doesn't magically make it right. It's still the same flawed logic the 1000th time and more annoying in the repetition. Continuing to preach that anything that falls under the name of "increased safety" is a sacred cow and must be accepted blindly and without question implies that we are unable to look after ourselves and I am most definitely able to look out for myself. I do believe that most of those proposing such rules feel that they are doing something genuinely good and hope to help protect their friends and fellow racers. I like the idea that it leads to a spirited and respectful exchange of opinions intended to win the hearts, minds, and votes of our driver members. That being said, I simply don't agree with the tired logic that says there is no expenditure too great in the name of increased safety and the basic idea that you can get something for nothing - there are ALWAYS trade-offs and unintended consequences from decisions like these no matter how well-meaning their intention.

It is a statistical fact that you are several times more likely to be injured in your own bathroom than racing in Conference. Do you wear a head and neck restraint in the shower? A helmet? Have you invested in "soft tub technology" to protect you from slipping and bashing a hole in your skull? Does doing any of those things cause you to have to accept some trade-offs like decreasing the effectiveness of the shower or requiring you to invest a lot of money on something that is really pretty unlikely to ever happen but still concievably possible? When I look in your racecar, will I see a $100,000 helmet? Using your own arguements - is your head worth less than that? If we require $100,000 dollar helmets, we can really improve safety because few (if any) will be able to afford to race and there is no kind of racing that is safer than NOT RACING.

So, my personal trade-off? For disclaimer purposes, I own a Hans. I chose to purchase it and I choose when I wear it. The first, and most obvious trade-off is a relatively small one: I paid about two week-ends of double race entries for it which is not insignificant. The obvious benefit: I am less likely to get a basal skull fracture with my Hans on, although we really haven't had any of these in the time I have been racing with Conference so it is not like there are a rash of those that we are correcting by using them. Second trade-off: I know I will not be able to get out of the car as quickly with it on, so perhaps there is an increased chance of burning. Again - hasn't been a lot of that happening either so probably not a lot of increased risk. In the end, it was personal. I feel a little more safe with it on, although that may be irrational. I feel a little more safe with my lucky t-shirt on too and neither is very likely to be called upon to keep me among the living - but it COULD happen, along with being hit by lightning or being swallowed up by a sinkhole.

If our focus is going to be 100% safety without ever questioning how much is enough, then racing is definitely off the table. NOT RACING is a safer alternative to wearing ANY safety gear while operating a race car. The insurance companies would probably love the idea of us paying our premiums and then NOT RACING because it is very safe. If we were members of the International Conference of Safety Conciousness Clubs perhaps that could be our mission statement.

The problem with this rule change is that it is almost certain to be refused by the vote of the member drivers at the upcoming club rule change meetings, but that is likely not where it will end. If I had to guess it will then become an E-board item and even if every single driver voted against it unanimously it can be unilaterally drafted into ICSCC "law" by the assembled E-board reps from the individual clubs and explained as something that "had to be done" to protect us from liability and/or insurance loss. I don't care if SCCA is moving toward making it mandatory. To some degree Conference exists because the SCCA has issues listening to their own membership so someone should really explain to me why we would be following their lead. We've all been hiding under the covers afraid of the insurance boogie man for too long. It's a service that we pay for and while we welcome suggestions from insurance advisors, we really need to take them as advice and not automatically adopt them as policy. I think you as drivers can be assured that several levels of Club and Conference officials are examining all policies and processes to make races as safe as possible while not rendering them unenjoyable or unaffordable.

Make sure and get to your upcoming club rules meeting and vote on the things that make Conference the kind of place you want to race. If it goes beyond that, make sure your club Executive Board instructs their Conference E-board representative to vote in accordance with the will of the membership. The officers of the individual clubs are elected and serve at the whim of the membership. Yes, it is their job to lead but even more so it is their job to represent the will of the majority of those that elected them. The Conference E-board exists as a structure for the representatives of the individual clubs to work out the details of their cooperation with each other in a democratic fashion with an advisory panel available to help in deliberation. Reversals of the will of the membership should only occur when the will of the membership puts us outside the law or clearly and immediately threatens the continued operation of the ICSCC. The use of a Hans device certainly does not rise to this standard.

From Rick the IRDC President:

Let me switch hats here and promise you that regardless of my personal feelings on this matter, I will support the decision made by the majority of those who vote at the IRDC rules meeting. Whether you decide for or against mandatory Hans usage or on any other matter - I will instruct IRDC's loyal E-board rep to vote in accordance with your wishes.

To those who have read this far - thanks for your time and attention.
Kyle said: "Does how fast my car goes have any bearing on the risk factor, well somewhat maybe, but severe injury can occur at low speeds in the paddock."

Ask Bob Spreen.....his speed wasn't an issue when the other CF drove over top of his helmet in an incident at PIR. His Hans device compressed over an 1" and saved his life. Or the horrific crash of the Porche at Spokane this year??

I spent $400 (which I coudn't really afford) on orthodics, just for comfort, so I can stand on my feet for over 20 hours a weekend watching out for you drivers. No, there was no vote taken to spend the money, it was voluntary and just common sense to be as comfortable as possible.

If I knowingly, could buy something to keep me safer and be able to go home to my family at the end of day, body intact, hmmmm.

We all buy insurance,, etc., hoping we never need it. We buy it "just in case".
And with some of the premiums, we ain't none to happy about those either, but we pay them.

Maybe look at the neck restraint device kinda like an insurance policy with benefits. Should you ever need it, you will be counting your blessings in more ways than one.
Like Rick said, in Conference you all have a vote. I would just hope that whatever vote you cast, is for the right reason, and not just because it's too expensive.

In the long run, what is the cost of this really worth to you?
Or is the feeling that this ruling might be mandated, the sticking point?

On an emotional level, I know that I am not a driver, and it's not my money or my decision, volunteers can't vote, but I have had to drive home, sick at heart, after an incident and I can't begin to know what the families feel.
As workers, we have gotten to know the drivers, and to respond as a paid professional to someone we don't know is one respond to someone we do know is really tough.
I would hate to think that, for the price of the device, the choice would be made.

Enough said.

Lynn Rimmer
ICSCC ROD Director
The vote boils to determine if we have a choice or not.

It is not a matter of is the device is beneficial or not.

Be careful how you vote because mandating anything (or the E-Board over-ruling the vote) is a step towards what SCCA and our government has turned into.
Once a upon a time, racing drivers did so in shirt sleeves. Eventually, they started wearing helmets, as their benefits in being ejected (or jumping!) from a crashing car was considered a "good idea." After a while, seat belts started to be used, as it was determined that it was now better to remain in the car that go flying. Fire-retardent clothing started getting used more and more, as remaining within the car also meant an increased risk to a post-crash fire. Did drivers resist the mandate to use each of these safety improvements as they became required? You bet, but each one became a "no brainer" over time.

HANS devices (or any other head-and-neck system) are not new technology, not anymore. This is NOT a case of some new-fangled safety device coming on the market and Conference deciding to impose it on the drivers simply because it's "safe." Time and time again, real-world incidents have shown their benefit.

Back in 2004, I had the opportunity to pick up the "economy" model HANS for a better-than-usual price, although it was still quite a bit more than the "normal" price you can buy them for today. I just happened to be wearing it at a lapping day, when I wouldn't otherwise have been required to, when I had a massive brake failure at the end of Pacific's front straight. In the ensuing carnage (ha!), my head snapped forward and to the left, exactly the kind of motion that's used to break someone's neck when they're hanged. I don't know that I would've died a la "#3," but I have NO DOUBT that I would've suffered a severe spinal injury if I hadn't been wearing my HANS.

Are HANS devices (again, for example) expensive? Well, yes and no. They're not all THAT expensive up front (much less than the cost of a set of tires) and you can use them for years. Will being required to purchase one set back your race plans? It might, but so could any number of other things that are mandated. (I have to buy a new helmet and new harnesses for next year, even though they both look brand-new. There's at least a race, right there.)

People complain that this is being mandated (or could be, if the E-Board overrules a driver vote) and that it's not fair. Seriously, would you stop using your helmet if it was no longer required? Head-and-neck systems are a mature safety device. I'm a big believer in personal choice and its attendant personal responsibility, but there's just no good reason NOT to wear some sort of head-and-neck system, not anymore.
OK, so after this post I will shut up. Said enough.



So with that said, I sincerely hope there is not a limitation on exactly what device MUST be bought. If it is ONLY a HANS and not a viable alternative I see a problem too.
I would agree that HANS-specific wording should be changed to support any "rated" (FIA or SFI, same with harnesses) head-and-neck system.

Requiring head-and-neck protection systems this many years after their initial availability (the HANS alone was invented almost 30 years ago) is no different than when helmets, seat harnesses, or fire-protected clothing was first mandated. In each of those situations, there were drivers who wanted nothing to do with the change (especially the harnesses: there were lots of drivers that preferred to be thrown clear of an accident; Masten Gregory comes to mind) and yet nowadays we can't fathom the idea of racing without them. I understand you don't want an additional cost mandated for you, or even voted for by your fellow drivers against your preferences, but this is another one of those pro-series-mandated things that has finally trickled-down to us amateur racers... and for good reason. If not this year, then any day now.
It's still possible for that rule to be manipulated into a more palatable state with the proper discussions during your clubs' drivers meeting, and have your representatives communicate to the Steward. Given options can soften any thoughts of the impending mandate when it gets to the Exec Bd.

The issue, as Steve suggests, is not a matter of 'if', but 'when'.

The rule could have been presented by any club's rep, but none did. The Steward, in proper form, did. It was bound to happen sometime.

So now there it is on the plate for all to enjoy. Got a napkin? If it leaves a bad taste in your mouth, then the next time you should do the cooking.

One thought does occur...

A parallel, much like Steve's examples, really. Remember when AMB came to town? "We don't need that." "It's an unnecessary expense." "It doesn't provide for safer racing." But now look at the pretty results. Everybody eventually had to buy that damned expensive transponder. SCCA went through it just maybe a year, or two previously. In fact, ORSCCA started to invest into an inventory of them to provide trackside rental to soften the blow for those that hadn't gotten themselves one yet, or were still novice, and getting their gear together.

Soon ICSCC bought into the AMB system too, and mandated transponders, also providing the services of trackside rentals to accommodate their 'customers'.

ORSCCA eventually sold their inventory after some years, getting out of the administration, logistics, and true expense of providing them at no profit. ICSCC is still hauling those dumb little red boxes around, and chasing them up, and down the paddock at every event weekend...

but I digress.

The point is exactly what Steve is expounding on. As the sport progresses so do the tools that provide for its future. Isn't that what the business of motor sports has been about since the Lords of the Cosmic Jest invented event promoters, and sanctioning bodies. To stay solvent, they have to provide for those events' insurability, and so belts, and buckets, and so on.

Making the cars go fast is the game of the spectacle, and those participants are suppose to use the sponsors products to take advantage of that great sport of motor racing. Getting themselves killed is really bad for business.

And after too long allowing that ignorance of obvious improvements in safety may well be considered negligent.

Another thought... Is there an expiration date on these devices (SFI, FIA, etc.)?
No  Neck Pain.jpg
I agree Kyle, it is a matter of choice and being told we have to wear one or else don't race really bothers me. I agree with Rick when he says "we've all been hiding under the covers afraid of the insurance boogie man for too long." It is another safety device to assist in keeping drivers a bit safer, but should it be mandatory because our insurance person says so? I think not.
If insurance is not the driving force behind this, then I for sure will not appreciate being told by a committee or board that I have to wear one. I tried one a few years ago and found it very uncomfortable, but having said that I will be buying one eventually, but preferably when I'M ready to do it.
A few years ago it was one size fits all, meaning they probably didn't fit many people very well. You'll be happy to know there are now 4 or 5 sizes to choose from. My wife and I shared one when we bought one (we are able to run in different run groups), and it was too big for her small frame. But there was only one size offered at that time. When they released more sizes, a size Small fit her like a glove and was much more comfortable.
The safest race is the where you don't...

In case anyone hasn’t been keeping score, it now costs $4259.91 to start racing in Conference, more if you want a car to run. Helmet, suit, underwear, socks, balaclava, gloves, shoes, belts, and arm restraints/window net will run $1465.46. Roll cage, Fire system, fuel cell, and master switch will come to $2648.99, for a total of $4114.45. Still no car. Now we add the $650 to $1,000 for a head and neck restraint.

So, just how safe can we afford to be? We are supposed to be selling ourselves to the flaming youth of our communities as the safe alternative to racing on the streets. At these prices it’s becoming a much harder sell. Many of the local ovals don’t have nearly the safety requirements that we already have and it’s the SAME insurance provider. There’s only one, just different brokers. Why don’t we ask the insurer what they REALLY need?

I find it hard to understand why we keep adding layer after layer of safety rules when we don’t enforce the ones we already have. Look at some of the in-car videos posted on this forum. There are drivers in them running their race with their helmet visors open. One even scratches his nose through the aperture during the race! Please don’t tell me about toughened eyeglass lenses. From what we expect of the Lexan shields, the eyeglass/sunglasses lenses would just get impacted into your eyeball when the debris arrives. There is another rule that is hardly, if ever, enforced but I won’t spoil the run and expose it.

We have actually had more issues with lightning strikes than head and neck injuries. A rule to require all cars to deploy grounding straps anyone?

There is a certain segment of our fraternity/sorority that likes to play “dress-up”. They like to be seen with all the “right” gear. I can only suppose the thought process goes, “If I wear the gear the pros do, then I must be a pro too.” This is all well and good, you are free to do so, but the problem arises when they insist everyone else do so just so they will fit in. The pros probably don’t have to buy the stuff at all, their teams supply it. If they do their 8-figure salaries won’t notice the cost. The suppliers most likely supply it all just for the endorsement potential. Their cars, particularly in F-1 and Indy Car have higher impact speeds. We’re supposed to be amateurs enjoying our sport with disposable income in our spare time.

We’re Conference, not the other guys. That’s why we started the organization in the first place. If the other bodies are having trouble with the racing becoming so intense that its “If you can’t pass ‘em, kill ‘em” then perhaps they had better review their licensing procedures, what it take to get one, what it takes to keep one.

Perhaps we could just solve the problem by amending Paragraph 702 of the Competition Regulations to read: “The length of event at ICSCC championship points races shall be 0 minutes. No competition vehicles shall proceed, to, from, or through the paddock area under its own power.” A completely safe race at last.

Paul Whitworth.
I agree with a lot of you saying that it's a safety issue and needs to happen, but I don't see why we "HAVE" to buy a HANS... I've been looking at all the options available and it's not just the more expensive price of the HANS that I don't like but the support and shape while wearing them.. I would probably stop racing with Conference if I was "FORCED" to wear only a HANS device. BUT.. That being said, if the rule was changed to any SFI/FIA legal head and neck device, I'd be in full support of that!

One more though... What about all the drivers who have invested in a Head and Neck Device that wasn't a HANS?? How can you force someone who has the safety issue buy a different safety device? That's like telling someone with Crow belts to buy Simpson belts. They have the same safety rating...

Is Conference getting a "kickback" from HANS to make their racers buy their product? Why wouldn't they open the new rule up more?
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If that's true Steve then it's disappointing to me for reasons that most people obviously can't see.
Both Rick and Paul have offered strong argument against this, and their passion and concern far out way anything else that has been said so far.
We as drivers need to talk about this before it's thrown out for a vote, or forced on us by the board. No discussions were held about this during the season that I was aware of, so what's the rush to push this through? Obviously it has to be rewritten because it is not worth much as it stands, but we as a group really have to adopt a policy of discussion and agreement for items of this expense or we will be no better than SCCA in that regard as Paul pointed out.
Some people are rather cavalier about my racing budget and question those of us who don't simply fall into line each time one of these ideas comes along. Put it out for discussion a year before the vote so we have time to plan for these extras, then put it to a vote. Is that too much to ask?
Both Rick and Paul have offered strong argument against this, and their passion and concern far out way anything else that has been said so far.
In your opinion, of course.

The proposed rule changes have been available for a fair bit... what's stopping anyone from having discussions? Or maybe most people just don't feel like there's anything to discuss. Deciding whether that's because they're cavalier about your racing budget, feel like there's no need to discuss it before a vote, or simply "sheeple" is left as an exercise for the reader.

On a related note: Since this item is up for a driver vote and with no indication from anyone on the E-Board that this is a "vote for it or we'll impose it" issue, I fail to understand all this hand-wringing about our impending slide into SCCA-ness. Don't like it? Don't vote for it. I won't be unless the wording is changed.
#1 - Absolutely incorrect to subscribe to the idea that this "is not a matter of 'if', but 'when'." I am absolutely oppsed to ANYTHING that I am expected to accept blindly. I am especially against those who would require me to accept I am simply too stupid or poorly informed to make reasonable decisions about my own safety. Each and every safety rule we have in place was motivated by a desire to mitigate a percieved hazard to our drivers. As an example, fire protective clothing has actually improved in the decades since it's introduction into the racing world while at the same time car design has steadily reduced the risk of fire reaching the driver and his fire resistant clothing. Is it still a measurable risk? Sure - I'm for some level of fire protection as a requirement for every driver and car. The difficult question is how much is then "enough"? Have we had a large enough incidence of fire threating or damaging our drivers? Should we mandate $20,000 survival cells with self contained atmosphere systems to reduce that risk from 1 in a million to 1 in 2 million? The truth is that every rule is actually a cost engineering compromise between acceptable safety/acceptable cost and slightly improved safety/prohibitive cost. If the safety-niks want to go whole hog I could run a critical engineering eye over every single system in the car and come up with something that would give a percieved higher level of safety. How much do you think it would actually cost if you had to revise your race car tomorrow to include run-flat tires/transmitting tire pressure sensors/wheel tethers/fully redundant second braking system/ballistic trans blanket/electronic engine management safety system/air bags/traction control/anti-lock brakes/engineered for racing speed crumple zones/transmitting driver bio monitoring systems, etc,etc,etc ...... Just about anything you can make up that could at least be concieved to improve safety in a racecar COULD be added as a requirement to legally race in Conference - but SHOULD it. If the way we race starts badly hurting or worse yet killing drivers it would likely end our ability to hold races here in the Northwest. On the other hand, the same result is achieved if you just keep ratcheting up the cost of getting a car on track that meets safety requirements until few are willing or able to afford participating any more. The difference between those two paths? A Conference ending accident may never happen. Increased costs WILL absolutely reduce attendance. One MIGHT end racing in the NW if the unlikely occurs, one absolutley WILL end racing in the NW if it get expensive enough. I just feel that we need to take a close look at the level of real world benefit each time we up the safety requirements and compare that with how much participation it is likely to cost us. Making this manditory will cost us some entries - period. We have had no incidence of basal skull fractures maiming or killing drivers in several decades, but I agree that there is always a chance that it could happen in the future. This decision hinges on how big you think that chance is, and whether we can trust our drivers to make safety decisions for THEMSELVES. We trust drivers to make decisions at every corner, at every braking point, and down every straight that have a much larger affect on safety every single lap. If we can trust them to have good enough judgement to drive a racecar at all, we should probably trust them to make decisions concerning small statistical changes in their level of safety due to additional gear as well.

#2 - I said I would support the will of the majority and I meant it. If the majority want manditory head and neck restraints then I will support their decision fully. I do have to agree with several above that limiting that to any one brand of device would be improper and unfair. If you feel we really need this in Conference, set a standard and accept devices that meet that standard.