PPI Advances Safety Technology

With the 2002 racing season in the books, many race teams are turning their attention to improving equipment and technology to put themselves in a better position to succeed in 2003. While improving performance equipment typically is top of mind, PPI Motorsports and other top racing series are critically looking at the advancements in safety technology -- namely, the Audible Alert driver notification system.

Immediately following the dramatic conclusion of the Winston Cup Series Championship battle at Homestead-Miami Speedway, top General Motors affiliated Winston Cup teams conducted a test at the Miami racing venue in preparation for 2003. PPI Motorsports, an established pioneer in racing safety from grassroots racing to Winston Cup, took part in the GM test in addition to conducting a private test of the Audible Alert driver notification system.

NASCAR Winston Cup driver Ricky Craven voiced his support for the Audible Alert system following testing, stating "The product has lots of potential. The idea of having a closed system to alert each of the 43 drivers at the same time is a great idea. Hopefully this is a product that will make Winston Cup racing safer for all of us drivers."

"Ricky (Craven) thought it had potential, and everyone that Audible Alert has come into contact with has liked it," said Jeff Huber, General Manager of PPI Motorsports. "There would probably be a couple of drivers alive today if this device had been accepted a couple of years ago. I sincerely believe that NASCAR is taking a good look at it."

PPI Motorsports has pioneered several advancements in racing safety, notably the PPI Racing Seat, which is constructed of carbon fiber. Testing and development of pit safety helmets for over-the-wall crews, required use of race day fire suits by all pit support personnel, utilization of the HANS device by Craven, the installation of a six-point safety harnesses, foam bead seat liners, pedal-activated throttle safety switches and cable-activated throttles in the No. 32 Tide Ford machine are all measures that PPI volunteered to make mandatory within their team in February of 2001 -- prior to NASCAR's safety mandates on driver head and neck restraints, pit safety helmets and support personnel fire suits.

"Safety is and always will be the top priority for our racing programs," said Cal Wells III, president and owner of PPI Motorsports. "The sport has seen a marked increase in safety awareness over the past few years, and we as a team have been inspired by some of the safety measures recently discussed."

There is great promise for the Audible Alert system, with other top touring series critically evaluating the potential use of the driver notification system for 2003, including heavy hitters such as the American Speed Association (ASA) and the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA).

With oval track racing's top leadership taking a serious look at preventive measures to save drivers, there is also hope that local track promoters will also realize the benefit of protecting the over 135,000 drivers that compete on a weekly basis at our nation's short tracks by making available the latest and best safety technology on the market.

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