What Is A HANS-Type Crash?
What is a HANS-type crash? Two recent examples are Jeff Gordon's Chevy barrel-rolling down the track at Daytona after hitting the wall during the Budweiser Shootout and Mike Austin's Top Alcohol Dragster sailing over the wall in the NHRA's Winternationals before suffering multiple impacts. Each driver was thankful to be wearing a HANS Device.
"Any crash where a car suffers an impact — or a series of impacts — is a HANS-type accident," said Downing. "The most often overlooked aspect of the HANS Device is its ability to keep on working in a crash with multiple impacts from different directions. It's not just about hitting the wall head-on."
Downing is quick to point out that the HANS Device works as part of a safety system required by sanctioning bodies like NASCAR and the NHRA. "In these type of incidents, a driver needs to have a good seat, a good harness and proper head surrounds in addition to a head and neck restraint," said Downing, a five-time IMSA champion and former class winner of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Four-time Sprint Cup champion Gordon is thankful for the changes in NASCAR safety since Dale Earnhardt Sr. was killed in a crash on the last lap at the Daytona 500 in 2001. Gordon said walking away from his recent accident "is a true testament to the safer barrier and the HANS Device and the structure of the cars and the seatbelts that we're running."
Drag racer Austin said he installed every piece of safety equipment available in the cockpit of his Top Alcohol Dragster, which was destroyed after it hit a concrete retaining barrier. That included a high quality seat, a head surround and the HANS Device. "There was a lot of different impacts and a lot of different angles," said Austin, who was bruised and battered but suffered no injuries. "I'm still here with no sore neck. I'm fortunate to walk away."
Michael McDowell, a driver who will walk to his car in Thursday's Gatorade Duels to attempt to qualify for the Daytona 500, is the classic example of a driver able to walk away from multiple impacts. In 2008, McDowell's Toyota hit the wall at Texas Motor Speedway in qualifying and then suffered another major impact before it flipped and rolled several times. McDowell's only injury? Some bruises to his forehead that indicated the HANS Device had done its job.
"We get testimonials each week from competitors in all types of vehicles all over the world in many different types of accidents with a lot of different angles," said Downing. "That explains why the HANS Device is relied on by over 130,000 racers around the world."