4th Annual SCORE Off-Road
Safety Demo at the 2019 Lucas Oil Off-Road Expo Presented by General Tire
Pomona Fairplex, Pomona, CA
September 28th, 2019
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
SCORE Booth, Building 5
Organized in collaboration with SCORE, this safety demonstration was performed by Foundation Director Don Taylor, with the assistance of Foundation President,
The need for greater fire protection for off-road racers and crews was illustrated by two videos, the first being of the dreadful fire explosion that engulfed the racing vehicle driven by Baja racer Danny Ebberts in Mexico.
Video 1: Danny Ebberts survives a fiery explosion during the 2012 SCORE Baja 1000
Video 2: Romain Morizot demonstrates the power of a well designed fire suit
The second video showed Stand 21’s Romain Morizot proving the worth of the company’s equipment by being set ablaze and surviving a 15-second inferno without any damage to his body. After the flames were extinguished by the support crew, Mr. Morizot was happy to report that he had not effectively been physically affected. Such trust in the product manufactured by his company is indeed impressive.
This was followed by guest speaker Danny Ebberts, the very victim of the grave refueling accident shown in the first video. Danny was lucky to escape with his life, but was seriously injured with burns on his face and body. As his car was being refueled by a typical gravity fuel can, it is likely that the vapors caused by pouring the fuel in the tank got too close to the hot exhaust and exploded, the whole vehicle becoming in a torch in seconds. At least one person in the crew was injured, and after what seemed to be an interminable time, Danny was able to crawl on all four from the inferno, but the damage was done.
Such racing incidents in the middle of nowhere (Baja California…) mean that there is often, no available medical or any even physical help, and poorly protected racers can easily die in such an inferno. Luckily, Danny was wearing what is considered as minimum adequate protection, an SFI 3/2a level 5 racing suit and a helmet fitted with an anti dust and fire retardant skirt. But even that was not enough for such a blaze, and his equipment was unable to save him from massive injuries. Many racers fear the heat caused by non breathable clothing to their body, and the ensuing heat stress condition, almost more than the risk of fire itself. The foundation encourages racers to be more selective in their choice of racing garments, for items that are truly breathable. Often, garment manufacturers make claims that are largely false in this regard.
What often compounds such injuries is the common practice of many racers to wear non fire-resistant underclothing under their racing suit, such as cotton/polyester-mix short-sleeve tee shirts and cotton briefs, as well as standard cotton socks, often from long-time held beliefs that have been a nefarious influence in garment choices. Indeed, many racers still believe in the old tale of “if I have a 3-layer suit, I do not need fire retardant underwear”. This of course displays a total lack of understanding about the need for multiple layers protection and the role of space and air between layers as a fire barrier.
Foundation director Don Taylor demonstrated the validity of breathable, multiple-layer fire retardant material exposed over a heat lamp within a small “oven”, then showing what happens to a standard tee shirt of which material almost instantly melted when subjected to the heat source.
The second part of the demonstration was to show the ease of helmet removal on a possibly unconscious or hampered driver having been involved in a crash, this without affecting possible neck and vertebrae injuries, using the “Lid Lifter” balaclava.
Last was a demonstration of the newest FHR device (Frontal Head Restraint), explaining a secondary effectiveness of such a device when used on off-road vehicles, as the device’s tether also helps to stabilize the driver’s head on rough terrain. The newest such devices are getting smaller and less obtrusive, and are now priced under USD 375.00, making it affordable to all. The Racing Goes Safer Foundation would like to thank SCORE International and its President, Roger Norman, for their kind collaboration in making this demonstration possible.