Browse Publications Technical Papers 2008-01-2981

Vertical Impact to an Open Wheel Race Car and Development of a Crash Test to Simulate Driver Response 2008-01-2981

The Indy Racing League (IRL) continuously strives to improve safety for drivers of open wheel racecars. As part of a comprehensive engineering effort, the IRL carefully investigates crashes that occur to understand crash causation, the vehicle dynamics involved and driver outcome. Over time, these investigations lead to improved facilities, vehicle design and restraint system performance.
One of these investigations involved an open wheel racecar that struck a barrier and became airborne. Without the benefit of an intact suspension, the bottom of the vehicle struck the ground with significant vertical deceleration, leading to driver injury. The vehicle's onboard event data recorder captured the event.
Working with the IRL, the Center for Advanced Product Evaluation (CAPE) developed a dynamic sled test to recreate this specific event. The test involved design of a sled buck to simulate the key elements of the racecar's seating system, restraint system and interior. The buck was oriented on the sled platform such that the vehicle's vertical axis was aligned with the sled's horizontal axis of motion. Unique facility adaptations were required to duplicate the deceleration pulse from the event data recorder.
The IRL's THOR anthropomorphic test device (ATD) was seated inside the sled buck to measure biomechanical response during the tests. Results were compared against known human response in the actual event. Several energy absorbing design alternatives were explored to mitigate injury in this vertical impact.


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