Each year we devote a portion of our February magazine to the issue of safety and safety devices in historic motor racing. In recent years, much research and development has been undertaken to develop various head and neck restraint systems for use in numerous professional race series. Precipitated, at least in part, due to the 2001 death of Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR, head and neck restraint systems have since been mandated by many professional race series including Formula One.
As result of its use and sometimes requirement in top tier racing series, these head and neck restraint systems have begun making their way down into various forms of amateur motorsport, with its use in historic racing becoming more common in the past 4-8 years. With the coming of these safety systems to historic racing, however, have followed numerous questions and controversies. When should they and shouldn’t they be used? How do they work with very old racecars? Can they be more dangerous than good in certain cars and situations? And perhaps most controversial of all, should clubs and sanctioning bodies be mandating their use?