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Here is what NHRA is looking into trying to improve after Scott's accident:

Technical Issues to be Investigated

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Engine failure. NHRA, working with the Kalitta race team, has examined the engine, and will work with the Kalitta team and other teams to analyze what might be done to reduce such incidents in the future.

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Parachute materials. Since the parachutes did not blossom, NHRA will work with parachute manufacturers and suppliers and SFI to analyze parachute mounting techniques and materials. Even though fire does not appear to have prevented the chutes from blossoming in this situation, NHRA also will work with manufacturers and suppliers to identify a parachute material that could be more fire resistant.

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Brakes. Research will be conducted to explore whether there is a way to increase brake efficiency when cars lose downforce due to the loss of the body.

# Shutdown Area. In light of this tragic incident, NHRA is looking into the shutdown area. NHRA has requested data from FIA regarding design and make-up of runoff areas in other forms of motorsports to see if it has any useful application to the unique forces in drag racing. Together with the racing community and outside groups, NHRA will research and analyze catch nets and restraint devices that are used in other applications, including military applications. In addition, NHRA will analyze additional methods that might be developed at the top end of the race track to help arrest runaway vehicles, given the speed, mass and other factors synonymous with NHRA drag racing.

# Speed. NHRA has implemented many initiatives to enhance safety including measures to keep speeds from increasing, personal protective gear, vehicle improvements, and track enhancements such as sand traps, catch nets and concrete barriers the entire length of the drag strip. NHRA is considering whether current speeds should be further limited or reduced to potentially improve safety. To analyze this issue NHRA will develop a task force that also includes members of the racing community to evaluate how to reduce the speed of Top Fuel and Funny Car vehicles.

NHRA will continue to seek and welcome input from race teams on these and other issues in the coming weeks and months ahead. NHRA will release additional information from its ongoing investigation as it becomes available, as well as provide updates on the recently announced initiatives.
 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: NHRA Communications, (626) 914-4761

NHRA SHORTENS RACE DISTANCE FOR TOP FUEL AND FUNNY CAR CLASSES TO 1,000 FEET AS INTERIM SAFETY STEP WHILE KALITTA ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION CONTINUES

GLENDORA, Calif. (July 2, 2008) -- As the investigation continues into the tragic accident that took the life of driver Scott Kalitta, NHRA announced today that beginning at the Mopar Mile High Nationals in Denver, Colorado, both the Top Fuel and Funny Car classes will race to 1,000 feet instead of the traditional 1,320 feet or one-quarter mile. This is an interim step that is being taken while NHRA continues to analyze and determine whether changes should be made to build upon the sport's long standing safety record, given the inherent risks and ever-present dangers associated with the sport.

This interim change was made by NHRA in collaboration with professional race teams. NHRA believes that racing the Top Fuel and Funny Car classes to 1,000 feet will allow NHRA and the racing community time to evaluate, analyze and implement potential changes based on the safety initiatives outlined last week.

With the change, fans will still be able to enjoy the sights, sounds and thrill of NHRA nitro racing with speeds around 300 mph and quick elapsed times to 1,000 feet.

Over the years, NHRA has implemented many initiatives to enhance safety including measures to limit speeds from increasing, personal protective gear, vehicle improvements, and track enhancements such as sand traps, catch nets and concrete barriers the entire length of the drag strip.

In the wake of the tragic series of events that took Kalitta’s life, the following technical issues are currently under investigation: 1) what might be done to reduce engine failures; 2) parachute mounting techniques and materials as well as identifying a parachute material that could be more fire resistant; 3) exploring whether there is a way to increase brake efficiency when cars lose downforce due to the loss of the body; 4) analyzing additional methods that might be developed at the top end of the race track to help arrest runaway vehicles; 5) considering whether current speeds should be further limited or reduced to potentially improve safety.

“The board members of the Professional Racers Owners Organization (PRO) wholeheartedly and unanimously support this decision,” said its president Kenny Bernstein. “We want to thank NHRA for listening to our input and suggestions to incorporate these changes. It is not lost on any of us that this constitutes a change in our history of running a quarter-mile, but it’s the most immediate adjustment we can make in the interest of safety which is foremost on everyone’s mind. This may be a temporary change and we recognize it is not the total answer. We will continue to work hand in hand with NHRA to evaluate other methods of making Top Fuel and Funny Car competition safer so that we might return to our quarter-mile racing standard. We also want to thank Connie Kalitta for his invaluable input. He has been a rock through these difficult times.”
 

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Discussion Starter #10
NHRA announces safety task force
7/11/2008

NHRA has announced the members of its safety task force created to investigate, analyze and determine ways to implement the initiatives recently outlined by NHRA to continue to enhance safety.

The current task force is made up of NHRA officials and Top Fuel and Funny Car crew chiefs and conducted its first conference call among its members earlier this week.

The task force is headed up by Dan Olson, NHRA director of top fuel and funny car racing. He is joined by: Austin Coil, crew chief for John Force Racing; Jim Head, Funny Car driver/crew chief; Alan Johnson, crew chief for the U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster; Jon Oberhofer, crew chief for the Doug Kalitta-driven Top Fuel dragster; Mark Oswald, co-crew chief on Melanie Troxel's Funny Car; and Tim Wilkerson, Funny Car driver/crew chief. Other representatives from NHRA and the Professional Racers Owners Organization (PRO) will also participate.

"This task force provides a more structured process for NHRA, together with crew chiefs within the racing community, to tackle emerging technical issues and find solutions to build upon the sport's long standing safety record," said Graham Light, senior vice president of racing operations, NHRA. NHRA has convened similar groups in the past and NHRA continually works with teams and the racing community on various safety and performance-related issues.

Among the issues currently under discussion are: 1) what may be done to reduce engine failures; 2) parachute mounting techniques and materials as well as identifying a parachute material that could be more fire resistant; 3) exploring whether there is a way to increase brake efficiency when cars lose downforce due to the loss of the body; 4) analyzing additional methods that might be developed at the top end of the race track to help arrest runaway vehicles; and 5) considering whether current speeds should be further limited or reduced to potentially improve safety.

In addition to the task force, NHRA is working with other motorsports sanctioning bodies, outside consultants and experts within and outside the motorsports world to investigate ways to address the recently announced safety initiatives.
 
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