Racing Safety with John Fitch
John Fitch Collectibles  
Full Driver Capsule  
Basic Driver Capsule  
Compression Barrier  
Displaceable Guardrail  
Fitch Barrier  
John Fitch Biography  
Press Center  
Related Links  
Race Legends
Motorsport Celebrity Agency
Racer John Fitch Honored for Contributions to Highway Safety
Longtime racing driver John Fitch today received the 1998 Kenneth Stonex Award from agency of the National Academy of Sciences

Stonex Award Winner John Fitch. photo | Art Evans
WASHINGTON, DC - January 14, 1998 -- Longtime racing driver John Fitch today received the 1998 Kenneth Stonex Award from the Transportation Research Board, a part of the National Academy of Sciences, for his lifelong contributions in the field of roadside safety. The award is sponsored by General Motors Corporation and presented by the Board's Roadside Safety Features Committee of the Transportation Research Board, a part of the National Academy of Sciences. For 18 years during the 50s and 60s, Fitch had a racing career that included driving for Mercedes-Benz and the Cunningham Team, with major wins in the Grand Prix of Argentina, the Mille Miglia, Tourist Trophy and Sebring (as a ten-time entrant in the 12-hour enduro). Fitch also drove six times in the Le Mans 24-hour race , finishing as high as 3rd. He was the first racing team manager for Corvette (in 1955 and 1956) and he was the first general manager of the Lime Rock race course.

During the latter part of his racing career he entered the field of highway safety by designing, developing and successfully testing the Fitch Barrier. This is the sand-filled plastic-barrel crash cushion that is commonly seen in front of bridge abutments. Used in 50 states, it is credited with saving thousands of lives.

"In all, John Fitch's achievements in road safety throughout the world," noted John F. Carney III, the Transportation Research Board committee chairman who presented the award, " have spanned four and one-half decades. His lifetime contributions have covered the full spectrum of highway safety - the roadside, the vehicle and the driver. All have resulted in significant reductions in injuries and fatalities on the motorways of the world."

Additionally, he has made substantial contributions to advances in motorsports safety. With his company, Impact Attenuation Inc., he is currently developing two circuit safety designs and a driver capsule for the contemporary racing scene. All are designed to reduce the velocity of a mass over a distance at a survivable rate.

The Displaceable Barrier is mounted on skids instead of posts sunk into the ground - upon impact, it moves in proportion to the impinging force, reducing the impact to a fraction of what it would be otherwise, and it redirects the vehicle parallel to the barrier.

The Compression Barrier, primarily for oval tracks, utilizes thick-walled resilient elastomer cylinders between a guardrail and the concrete wall, providing nearly three feet of crush and a redirecting function.

For the race car, the Fitch Driver Capsule is a protective trough-like surround with the helmet tethered to a hinged seat back, its forward travel being regulated by an inertial reel attached to the car structure. This minimizes exposure to brain trauma and eliminates shear forces on, or extension of, the neck.

The Stonex Award takes its name from Kenneth A. Stonex, a General Motors engineer. Mr. Stonex was active in the 1940s and 1950s, conducting tests and studies at the GM Proving Grounds in Michigan. Many of the concepts developed by Stonex and GM to eliminate hazardous terrain and obstacles have been incorporated in the U.S. Interstate Highway System and urban freeway networks.

John Fitch
(860) 435-2006
433 Salmon Kill RD
Lime Rock, CT 06039
Carl Goodwin
221 W.5th St. Box D
Palisade, CO 81526

Donn Gurney
(608) 237-1922
Race Legends, Inc.
5410 Highway 73
Marshall, WI 53559-9679

Copyright ©2016 by Race Safety, Inc. Portions copyright John Fitch. All Rights Reserved.