APRIL 6, 2002
The arrival of HANS
There are some licensing problems to be sorted out, as the patent is owned by DaimlerChrysler but if all goes to plan these will be out of the way before the start of the 2003 season.
HANS is a device which was basically invented by Robert Hubbard, a professor in the biomechanic constructions research laboratory at Michigan University. It is based on a rigid collar-shaped carbonfiber shell which fits over the shoulders of the driver and is held in place by the seat belts. This is then fastened to the helmet by a number of tethers. When there is an accident the acceleration of the driver's head is minimized and the forces are transmitted evenly across the forehead rather than concentrated in the neck and at the base of the skull.
The acceptance of HANS has accelerated since Dale Earnhardt's fatal accident last year at Daytona and since then many NASCAR drivers have started wearing HANS of their own accord. CART already has rules that the device must be worn by the drivers in the high-speed oval races.