SAE International Award for Motorsport Safety Honoring John Melvin


NASCAR funded this award to recognize individuals, organizations, or teams whose research and/or practical application represents unique, original concepts that, when applied to motorsports, cause significant positive change and elevate safety to new levels of innovation. Nominees should be those who have demonstrated a commitment to reducing the injuries in auto racing incidents.

Dr. John Melvin was a pioneer in the field of driver safety, particularly in the area of driver restraint systems. He persuaded drivers to adopt the HANS (head and neck restraint) device, was a staunch supporter of “SAFER” (steel foam and energy reduction) barriers on the track and was a key developer of "black box" data recording for racecars that helped sanctioning bodies learn from accidents. His many contributions as a safety consultant to NASCAR for more than 13 years forever changed the sport.


  • Selection will be based on the significance and impact of the cited contribution and the lasting safety benefit to Motorsport. 
  • Demonstrated notable achievements, outstanding research, and innovation within the Motorsport industry.
  • The cited contributions may be measured by a combination of publications (technical articles, research papers, etc.), patents, honors, and awards. Nominees are not limited to SAE members nor are records of achievements limited to only within SAE.
  • The completed nomination form must be accompanied by at least two letters of support verifying the accomplishments cited in the nomination. Names and email addresses of references are not accepted in lieu of letters.


  • Members of the Selection Committee are not eligible for the award while serving on the committee. Two years must pass before former members of the Selection Committee are eligible to receive the award.


This includes an honorarium and an award that is presented at an SAE Event.

Past Participants: 

2022 Dr. Geoff Billows NTT IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway
2021 Arne Kuhns SFI
2020 Jochen Braunwarth & Team Geobrugg AG
2018 Steve Peterson (Posthumously) NASCAR
2017 Dean Sicking UAB
2017 Robert W. Bielenberg University of Nebraska-Lincoln
2017 Ronald K. Faller University of Nebraska-Lincoln
2017 Anton George Vision Investments LLC
2017 James C. Holloway University of Nebraska-Lincoln
2017 Karla A. Lechtenberg University of Nebraska-Lincoln
2017 John D. Reid University of Nebraska-Lincoln
2017 John R. Rohde University of Nebraska-Lincoln, retired
2016 James R. Downing Downing/Atlanta Inc.
2016 Hubert Gramling Motorsport Safety Consultant
2016 Robert Hubbard, Ph.D.  Michigan State University, retired

Nominations August 12 - September 30