Electric Vehicle Safety Seminar at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach
Saturday, April 15th, 2023 9am- 11am
Long Beach Convention Center,
Rooms 203 A,B&C
The April 15 th Racing Goes Safer, Safety Seminar presented by the Stand 21 Safety
Foundation featured two very different presentations, by driver legend Jacky Ickx with his perspective on the past, and engineer Eric Huhn talking about the safety challenges in the new era of electric racing vehicles, coming to tracks near you.
It was quickly apparent that six time LeMans winner, twice runner-up for F1 Champion, and Paris-Daker winner Jackie Ickx is at a different point in his life today, and sees life in broader terms. Coming from an era when so many drivers were killed on the track, the gentleman from Belgium said whenever he meets Jackie Stewart now, he is always greeted with “We are the survivors…” and feels blessed. That can bring sad memories, but today Jacky mainly remembers the rich relationships he had with fellow drivers, and team owners like Ken Tyrell and John Wyer. But most fondly of all, he recalled the family-like closeness of American team owner Carl Haas and his wife Bernie, with whom he won the Can-Am Championship.
Jacky also told of how visiting Africa in the various rally raids had opened his eyes to a world where so many people have so very little, yet we all share this same planet every day. Speaking at an un-rushed pace, Jacky charmed the audience with his humble manor, his humor, positive attitude, and with that giveaway smile on his face, his joy of life.
If Jacky brought us charm, Eric Huhn taught us about harm. Potential harm from high voltage battery systems and how to deal with it that is. Applying his diverse experience as an engineer, NASCAR team member, firefighter, and Safety Director at the University of
North Carolina at Charlotte, Eric was able to connect with his audience and explain in basic terms the elements of an electric vehicle, electrocution hazards, and why battery fires defy traditional extinguishers.
The EV Safety topic was timely as it attracted those who must respond to EVs showing up at their track events. “Here today we have a half dozen tech officials from the SCTA, Directors from the SRO, Formula Drift, and FIA Formula E series, folks from Thermal Raceway, and several drag racers, and all of you are facing a common challenge of how to work safely around high performance EVs” said seminar organizer Don Taylor. “We want you to use this opportunity to connect, exchange ideas, and learn from each other”. And they did. There were experiences shared during the Q and A session, and clusters of discussions around the room that lasted well afterward.
As a result of that expressed desire to learn more about EV racing safety and share information, the Stand 21 Safety Foundation is now committed to creating a platform to do that. Says Whitney Oostra, Racing Goes Safer’s webmaster, “I already see ways to use our site to make that happen”. Stay tuned.
The safety organization’s thanks go out to Jim Michaelian, President of the Long Beach Grand Prix Association who welcomes the safety program back to his iconic event every year. And to SAE SoCal Section Chairman Michael Guidry and catalyst Dean Case, who have commissioned motorsports videographer TJ Keon to produce videos of the presentations, available to all on racinggoessafer.org and YouTube.
“I am very pleased with today’s event. Very pleased.” concluded Foundation President Yves Morizot. “Having Jacky here today, my friend since long ago, and seeing the desire of our audience to learn more about EV safety, is very special. We do these events to help those in the sport that we love”. Yves was joined on stage by his sons Romain and Christopher, who are the new generation to lead Stand 21 Racewear, as well as the Safety Foundation into the future.
The Stand 21 Safety Foundation’s Racing Goes Safer program, established in 2008 regularly presents seminars at the Acura Grand Prix at Long Beach, the PRI Show, and for the SCTA, and for SCORE International. More at racinggoessafer.org.