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Daytona 500 Press Release

NOTE: The following release dated February 18, 2001 was distibuted at Daytona prior to that race, with illustrations of the referenced safety devices attached. Matters not pertinent to the tragedy of February 18 have been deleted.


FROM: Impact Attenuation Inc.
433 Salmon Kill Road
Lime Rock, CT 06039
  CONTACT: Carl Goodwin

Innovations Presented at Daytona 500
Win SCCA's Snively Racing Safety Award

John Fitch Honored for 44 Years of Outstanding Contributions,
Accepts George Snively Memorial Award

Lime Rock, Connecticut, February 18, 2001 - John Fitch's dedication to safety began in 1957 when the subject was a non-issue. Starting at Lime Rock, he optimized the run-off areas and installed the first lowered guard rails that prevented post-snagging by race car hubs for the inaugural race at the then-new road course in Conneticut. Later he designed the energy-absorbing pit wall-ends for Lime Rock and Watkins Glen.

He's become best known in recent years for safety advocacy that includes spearheading the drive to pave the gravel traps and to use tire walls or other "soft wall" ideas only where they cannot pocket and reject cars into traffic. The need to re-think these practices is convincingly proven by a videotape of actual racing events produced by Mr. Fitch's company, Impact Attenuation.

Impact Attenuation has created racing safety concepts that await sponsorship for high-speed demonstration. They are the energy-absorbing Compression Barrier -- a retrofit for oval tracks, the Displaceable Guardrail for the infields of oval tracks as well as a replacement for conventional guardrails on road courses, and a Driver Capsule that provides in-car protection for high velocity impacts.

The Compression Barrier has two functions on an oval track: energy-absorption and redirection. It incorporates a row of resilient tubes between the concrete wall and low-friction steel railings. This provides up to three feet of energy absorption and the steel facing redirects the car at a shallow angle, in contrast to so-called soft-walls that snag and reject cars violently back into traffic.

The Driver Capsule is a trough-like seat incorporating a hinged seatback that insures that the driver's helmet and torso move in unison at a rate regulated by a reel attached to the chassis. As described on the drawing, high speed protection from hyperextension of the neck and basal skull fractureis unique to this design.

The Displaceable Guardrail for road courses and oval infields features steel beams mounted to skids instead of to posts imbedded in the ground. It can slide several feet and redirects cars parallel to the track. It is ideal for infield barriers on ovals and for road courses wherever guardrails are required.

In addition to work in the field of racing safety, John Fitch has been an innovator in highway safety since 1968 when he invented The Fitch Barrier, those yellow barrels for protection at exit ramps and bridge abutments from coast to coast where they have saved thousands of lives in the past 33 years. In 1998 he won The Stonex Award for lifetime achievements in highway safety by the U.S. Transportation Research Board, part of the National Academy of Sciences.

Fitch is one of the few active in the cause of racing safety who have actually been racing drivers. He was the first SCCA national champion. He was the first SCCA national champion. He drove with the Cunningham Team in international events and managed the first factory Corvette teams at Sebring in the '50s. He is the only American to have driven for the Mercedes-Benz team, with teammates Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio.

It was with that team that his preoccupation with safety began, at Le Mans in 1955 when his co-driver on the Mercedes team crashed and 85 spectators were killed, a tragedy that motivated his focus on road safety, for public roads as well as for racing.

For details contact
John Fitch
Impact Attenuation Inc.
433 Salmon Kill Road
Lakeville, CT 06039
Carl Goodwin
221 W.5th St. Box D
Palisade, CO 81526


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