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SCORE Safety Conference and 50th Baja Beach Party
Saturday July 29, 2017
Mission Beach, CA

The Stand 21 Safety Foundation’s “Racing Goes Safer” was invited by SCORE International for the second year in a row to organize a safety conference for SCORE drivers, riders and crew, as it approaches the fiftieth anniversary running of the iconic BAJA 1000 race in November. 

As a motorsport safety source, the Stand 21 safety foundation, is a non-profit organization with a primary purpose of promoting enhanced motor racing safety. It aims to achieve this goal in collaboration with medical and scientific bodies, as well as with major racing series’ entities (FIA, SFI, NHRA, SCTA, SCCA, SCORE…) in order to bring awareness of safety issues, and offer solutions to the forefront of the motor racing world.

Set in SCORE President & Owner Roger Norman’s beautiful residence in Mission Beach, San Diego, on July 29th, this event gathered SCORE members and their families for a very informative series of presentations by independent motorsports-safety specialists.  The day also included a barbeque and time for everyone to enjoy the beach on a perfect, Southern California day.

After an introduction of Roger Norman, and the Stand 21 Safety Foundation President Yves Morizot, by Foundation Director Don Taylor, a minute of silence was paid in remembrance of beloved, long-time SCORE Tech Director Art Savedra who recently passed away from a sudden heart attack, and of Bob “The Weatherman” Steinberger, the highly respected safety and logistics radio voice of SCORE racing in Baja, who passed away after a long battle with cancer. 

Roger Norman also introduced Tim Nugent: “Tim is the only thing tougher than my BFGoodrich Tires in Baja!  He is the motorcycle rider I hit at the 2011 Baja 500, who over the following 11 months successfully recovered from 23 broken bones.” Tim’s accident generated changes in SCORE’s 2012 regulations with an added hour between motorcycles and cars starting times, followed by further safety improvements.

Emcee Don Taylor introduced Kurt Caselli Foundation’s Antti Kallonen, who took over the microphone, describing progresses and implemented safety improvements for motorcycle riders in BAJA events. Kurt Caselli was a successful American motorcycle off-road racing champion who died in a racing accident at the SCORE International Baja 1000 in Baja California, Mexico in 2013. The Kurt Caselli Foundation focuses on the safety of riders and racers in the off-road motorcycling industry

IndyCar Safety Advisor, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Medical consultant for over 25 years, and FIA medical consultant for over 10 years, Dr. Steven Olvey exposed the risks of brain concussions experienced by not only racing drivers but athletes in many other sports. Dr. Olvey’s research in collaboration with his friend Dr. Terry Trammell has greatly advanced the sport’s concussions knowledge and has allowed the development of greater on-board safety equipment. This research has led to advancing knowledge about concussions and their effect on victims’ later lives, often causing dementia and loss or memory. Most telling during Dr. Olvey’s presentation was the realization that an actual impact is not always necessary for a concussion to occur, and that extreme acceleration through rotational motion can be enough to rotate the brain inside the cranium cavity, causing great nerve damage. Dr. Olvey pointed out 3-time Indy-500 winner Dario Franchitti as an example of a racer who had to give up the sport after his well documented Houston IndyCar crash, due to the risk he would encounter if suffering another concussion event. Off-road racers are exposed to violent crashes and/or crashes caused by projected stones from other vehicles that can cause light to massive concussion events. It is not uncommon for such racers to have to stop their vehicles to physically recover from the immediate effects of stone-projection impacts.  But, do they recognize further effect on their bodies? Dr. Olvey presented a 4-stage recovery method for concussion victims, now following a clear methodology. 

Founding ICMS member, Dr. Jacques Dallaire, has focused his life into teaching racing drivers such as F1, Indy, NASCAR and drivers in other disciplines as well as sportsmen in properly focusing their attention to the job at hand. Jacques’ book, “Performance Thinking” defines mental skills for the competitive world and life. Jacques explained the importance of keeping racers minds onto the job at hand, especially after an error of judgment and a near miss creates temporary confusion that may lead to a crash. He explained the “Seven Key Rules of the Mental Road”, rule # 1 being that if one is to get out of a hole, stop digging. Much interest was shown by this presentation.

Mike Hurst is the Technical Manager of the SFI Foundation that provides certification for drivers and racing cars equipment in the USA. Mike discussed the importance of wearing adequate, fire-retardant clothing, and demonstrated the danger of wearing inadequate polyester/cotton-blend tees and briefs (not counting Nylon briefs and bras for women drivers), recommending instead genuine Nomex-fabric underwear. Wearing such underwear inside a typical SFI-5 rated suit increases heat protection from open flame by nearly 50%, while reducing body heat by offering a barrier against outside elements such as sunlight and engine generated heat in the racing vehicle. Mike also warned racers to stay away from a  growing number of counterfeit and often dangerous “safety” products manufactured in the Orient and marketed at very low prices on the Internet. Non certified safety harnesses using dangerous fibers and mild-steel buckles, head & neck protective devices, racing suits made of inadequate materials, often with fake FIA and SFI certification labels. As a general rule, if a deal sounds too good to be real, it is not and can greatly endanger the lives of such devices’ customers.  

The SNELL Memorial Foundation’s Chief Engineer and Executive Director, Ed Becker, described current helmet testing procedures and some new developments in regard to improving the process. Ed showed the inadequacy of certain, now obsolete, materials used as inner liner, unable to return to their pre-compression stage. Also described were the various acceptable standards now in use worldwide and their SNELL comparatives. Helmets bearing an FIA 8860-2004 or 2010 offer over 20% greater impact protection than helmets exceeding the SA-2015 standard. The FIA 8859 standard corresponds to the SNELL SA-2015. Ed also described as of utmost importance, the compression of the inner liner due to helmet wearing in multiple events over a period of time, often from the results of acceleration and deceleration, making the helmet’s fit loose on the wearer and rendering the helmet less efficient. This becomes critical as soon as the helmet can rotate even slightly in two planes on the head. It is also critically important for a racer to purchase his helmet from a factory-trained retailer, made to his individual head’s measures, instead of selecting a “one fits all” S, M or L generic unit of which fitment is often inadequate and will not offer adequate protection and comfort. 

Former NASCAR Safety Director Tom Gideon focused on safety improvements brought by the introduction and implementation of the HANS device, invented by Dr. Robert Hubbard and Jim Downing, now mandatory in F1, IndyCar, NASCAR, many racing series worldwide, and now, SCORE. This after numerous deaths caused by basilar skull fracture and experienced by racing stars such as Ayrton Senna, Greg Moore, Dale Earnhardt, Adam Petty and so many others. Research performed by one of the Stand 21 Safety Foundation’s founding members, the late Dr. John Melvin, was also instrumental in the generalized use and implementation of the HANS device and better helmets. Today, the HANS device is indispensable. Tom also explained the improvements in safety belts from a 5-point to the 6-point system, that has greatly reduced the pressure encountered by the chest during an impact, while minimizing the risk of ‘submarining’.

To conclude the Seminar, Dave Morgan, Vice President & National Sales manager of TnT Rescue Systems demonstrated the latest rescue tools used to free drivers and passengers in road accidents, explaining a concern that newer cars using high-strength steel in A and B pillars presented them a new challenge as their multiple layers are making it difficult and more time consuming to free injured occupants, sometimes between life & death medical condition.  Dave brought TnT’s new emergency rescue support truck, complete with Jaws-of-Life tools, for a live demo outside.  This truck will be on duty at the 2017 Baja 1000. 

Guests were then provided with a delicious lunch and networking in Roger and Elise Norman’s den that offered direct access to the beach, while being served champagne drinks among others. All in all, it was a very informative day for racers and their families, in the comfort of exceptional surroundings. 

The Stand 21 Safety Foundation expresses here, its thanks to SCORE’s Roger and Elise Norman for their exceptional hospitality. 

Roger and Yves agreed to make the Safety Conference an annual event, allowing for other SCORE members to attend.  

For those who could be not present this year, SCORE will provide coverage of the speakers via videos and articles through the SCORE International website as well as the SCORE Journal digital magazine.  www.score-international.com.