AN OPEN LETTER TO DRAGG
And anyone else just getting started
In the summer of 2014 DRAGG had an incident where twodrivers suffered injury as a result of a crash. Many people involved in the sport tried to give advice, information,knowledge and help.
The result was that the organizer of DRAGG took this as anassault on the group and closed the lines of communication. This cut off a LOT ofimportant and valuable information from reaching the DRAGG members who reallyneeded it.
And it also had an effect of putting a very bad reputationon this young group. Many peopleinvolved in the sport simply look at this group as a bunch of idiots and goofballs and don’t take what they do seriously. The group has basically become the laughing stock of the sport.
I would like each of you to understand that this is NOT asituation where we want to bash what you are doing. We only want to help you improve what you aredoing so that these types of situations do not repeat themselves.
In MISFITS we have a long standing rule that you can bitchand complain as long as you have a solution to the problem you are bitchingabout. So it is always with that spiritin mind that we offer the help we do.
Following the incident in question, the group made severalchanges and instituted some safety requirements on the cars. For this we support you. But our goal is to try to move your groupfrom being reactive to being proactive.
You had a crash with injury and as a result you made changesand improvements. That’s great, butwouldn’t things be better for your group if you thought about these thingsbefore someone got hurt and made those changes before you had a crash withinjury? That’s what we are trying tohelp you do.
There are also problems with some of the safety features putinto place. And some of these things cando far more harm then good. Just a fewof these things in question that I will try to address here are: Driverharness, bumpers and wrist restraints.
YOU don’t need to agree with me or what I have to say, butbefore you strap your ass into a soapbox car and go speeding off down a hill,it may be a good idea for you to at least read along. What you do with this information after thatis up to you. I hope you will thinkabout it and make some changes and improvements to help secure yoursafety. But if you want to continue toroll down hill with an Ignorance is Bliss mentality, that’s up to you. You just won’t be doing it in any of ourevents.
It’s difficult for most people to be able to really imagine whathappens in an accident. The forces putupon the body and the vehicle are difficult to imagine. And the dynamics of an incident are often fardifferent then most people think.
Lets start with the bumpers. You guys instituted a bumper rule. And that’s a really good idea. But ALL the cars need to have a similar bumper design and they all needto be at the same height for them to be effective.
If you have mismatched bumper design, or mismatched height,they can’t work together, or worse, they can get tangled up and locked togethercausing both cars to loose control. Soit’s important that bumpers match up, or else they don’t work.
Now, I haven’t been following very closely what you guys doout there simply because of the difficulty of trying to deal with Jeffery. So if this has been covered and corrected,that’s great. But if not, it issomething you should try to address as a group and correct for everyone’sadvantage should you choose to continue to have a mandatory bumper rule.
The biggest thing we see that scares us is the mounting ofseat belts and particularly the shoulder harnesses. Many of the DRAGG cars have the shoulderbelts mounted low – far below the shoulder. This is extremely dangerous and even in a frontal impact can result inserious spinal compression.
It also allows the driver to pendulum from side to sidewhich can end with severe head impact or neck injury on other parts of thevehicle.
This is something that can be fixed EASILY and cheaply onmost cars. The addition of a single barbehind the driver and no more then 3 or 4 inches below the shoulders is all ittakes. This is probably easier to dothen mounting a bumper and should be a priority to the driver’s safety.
But a harness also needs to be used in conjunction with asuitable seat. The seat needs toproperly support and hold the driver in place when things go wrong. It needs to be able to spread an impact overa wide portion of the body and not concentrate it in a small area.
Many of your cars have no real seat. And most of them offer no support to thebody. A few of them have designs whichare sure to cripple or kill the driver if they are involved in a severe crash.
This does not mean that you need to go out and purchase aracing seat and bolt it into your car. But you DO need to give some real consideration to how your body issecured and supported in the car. Asimple tray that can support you and keep you from sliding around is sometimesall you need.
On many of our cars we use an upright poly seat designed forautomotive use. It’s not the idealracing seat for going fast and being out of the air stream, but it has provenitself to be a very safe and secure seat regardless of the size or shape of thedriver.
When mounted properly, these seats can support and protectyou in even the most severe crash.
In some of our other cars we have constricted heavy supportframes for the driver and these are covered with heavy sheet metal to form aseat pan that can support the entire torso. This protects the body and spreads the load of an impact so a driverdoes not have a concentration of force in small areas of the body.
Both of these seat designs are coupled with provision for a5 point harness which also helps to keep the belts in place in the event of aserious incident. Without that design,the belts that are supposed to hold the driver secure in the seat can sometimesmove on the body and cause internal injury to vital organs.
There was also a push for “Wrist Restraints”. And again, due to a lack of knowledge on whatyou guys are doing, I don’t know how this has worked out. But here’s a few problems with “wristrestraints”.
First, what you need is ARM restraints, not wrist restraints. The purpose of arm restraints are to keep thearms from flailing around in the event of an incident, while still allowingfull function of the arms for driving.
One of the BIG problems with the use of arm restraints in thecase of DRAGG is that many of your cars do not contain the arms inside the car!
The cars offer no protection to the driver in regards to thearms if the arms are completely outside of the cockpit. While using arm restraints may keep the armsfrom flailing around, the design of the car itself is NOT what any manufacturerhad in mind when designing arm restraints.
You guys need to get a little more upper body protection andget those arms inside the body of the car in order for arm restraints to be effective.
Then you also have to have the proper type of harness forthe arm restraints to be able to work properly. Again, your safety equipment needs to be designed for the task at handand then used properly in order for it to be effective.
We have put a LOT of information on the forums regardingsafety. This can be a lot of help toanyone building or getting involved. Weencourage each of you to sign up on the forum. Post comments, ask questions, and have a free exchange of ideas andinformation for the benefit of everyone involved in the sport.