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Analysis

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First, Be aware: 
There is no practical total solution that will eliminate all possible injury.   Extreme forces can always overwhelm any safety system and injury, paralysis or death can occur.   A safety component such as the Crash Pad can only reduce the risk of injury when used properly and in conjunction with other appropriate safety equipment.

 

Fudd's Second Law of Opposition: " If you hit something hard enough, it WILL break. "
(a little humor, but true)

 

The Problem: 

Neck and Back Spinal Injury can occur when the car land wheels down on the frame.

In a crash, when there is a hard impact to the bottom of the frame, the driver is forced into the seat bottom.  With the end of the driver's spine firmly belted against the rigid seat bottom, the weight of the driver's head and helmet act like a pile driver, compressing the spine.  Injury can occur in the neck, the weakest area, or the back.  The injuries are typically compression fractures of or broken vertebrae or ruptured discs between the vertebrae or nerve damage.  

Analysis:
Spinal Compression Injury is the most common serious injury occurring in short track Open Wheel Racing today.

As containment seats became more common, so did the spinal injury problem.   Seats now support the driver and his spine so well, that in a wheels down or frame bottom type of impact, the driver's head and helmet is aligned directly on top of the spine and it acts like a pile driver, compressing the spine.  A frame bottom impact is very short duration. The sudden impact creates a spinal compression that can exceed the ability for an individual's body to absorb the forces.  

802 Solution:
Two things are needed to reduce these Spinal Impact forces:
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 1.    Compressible Material
                    The downward motion of the driver’s body and spine must be
                       slowed down during the impact. 

                   802SAM Shock Absorbing Material works like a shock absorber.  
                   The material’s resisting force remains the same throughout the
                      compression of the material.        
2.    Compressible Space
                     The driver's body needs room to slow its downward motion.  
                     The thickness of the Crash Pad provides the critical compressible
                       space
needed to slow the driver's downward motion. 

 

The Crash Pad
Pad your Butt to Save Your Neck !

Less expensive than a Crash Helmet but just as important.

The combination of uniform resistance and compressible space reduces the “peak value” of the impact and spreads the forces over a longer period of time so that the body is more able to survive the impact.


The Right Stuff !
802SAM Shock Absorbing Material


This material was found to be BEST for Reducing the Risk of Spinal Injury
in US Military testing.

THE CRASH PAD uses a special compressible material to slow the high speed downward motion and provide the space for the driver’s body to slow down.   802SAM Shock Absorbing Material, is a specially designed material that evenly slows motion and distributes forces.  The Crash Pad outer covering is a special 4-way-stretch material that is selected to stretch with the 802SAM material without impairing its function.

The wrong stuff can range from 'useless' to 'more damaging than nothing at all' !!  -(see "Important notes" at the bottom of the page).

The Crash Pad materials do not support flame and fumes are non toxic in a fire.

The Crash Pad was developed by two sprint car racers (both engineers), after they saw their friends and competitors suffer from neck and back spinal compression injuries.  
"We didn't want to get hurt, so we did extensive research to find a solution to this problem for ourselves.  We've used the product, along with some of our friends, for several years and unfortunately have successfully tested it several times in our own hard crashes.  We decided that it was now time to make a simple and affordable product available for all racers."

802SAM will quickly recover to its original capability as soon as extreme forces are removed, and it’s ready to go again and again.  802SAM is a material that is different from foam rubber.  802SAM pushes back with a constant resistance but does not spring back.  Foam Rubber “spring back” can actually ADD  G-forces to an impact (see "Important notes" below). 

It is important to have the right stuff!  The material has to react correctly in high speed impact (lasting 1/10th of a second).  Some materials become rigid in high speed compression, some lose resistance at high speed compression, some spring back.   Don't use the wrong stuff, just because it feels ok when you squeeze it.  Like a racing shock, you can't tell what you have without the correct design and testing.

802SAM has been tested in high speed bottom impact of a seated, belted and helmeted crash test dummy and the dummy's internal spinal loads were measured.  802SAM was found to be BEST of all materials tested for Reducing the Risk of Spinal Injury.

The Lumbar Support:
Very important part of impact absorption !
First:
This component is as important as the Bottom Crash Pad and is provided as part of the standard product.   In a frame bottom impact the driver’s body is compressed into the seat.   The lower back and pelvis tend to rotate into the bottom of the seat, pushing the lower back into the seat back.  The Lumbar Back Pad provides the Shock Absorbing Space to allow this motion to occur at a slowed down rate.   This motion also redirects some of the spinal compression forces into Shock Absorbing material at the vertical back of the seat which helps with the total spinal impact absorption capability of the Crash Pad.
Second:
The Lumbar Back Pad provides a second critical function.   The Lumbar Back Pad is designed to be located vertically, on TOP of the rear inch of the Bottom Crash Pad.   This locates the end of the spine an inch further forward into the Bottom Crash Pad for better impact distribution and absorption.
Third:
The Lumbar Back Pad also happens to make the seat more comfortable.

The Shoulder Height Full Back Pad:
The added length of this 1”  thick pad is primarily for comfort but it never hurts to have more 802SAM Shock Absorbing Material between you and the rigid seat structure.   The Full Back Pad has two 1/2” layers of 802SAM for adjustment of the Back Pad thickness.   The lowest 8” must always be 1” thickness.   Above that you can use one 1/2" layer to create a transition from 1” down to 1/2" thickness depending on your feel in the seat.

Product Recommendations:
3” pad  > is best (will compress to  about 1 7/8" with driver seated and belted - typical)
2” pad  > is good (will compress to about 1 3/8" with driver seated and belted - typical)
1” pad  > is better than nothing (will compress to about 5/8" with driver seated and belted - typical)
Nothing > is asking for trouble (nothing is only better than foam rubber)


The thicker the pad, the more time and space to slow downward motion.

When you understand the Problem,
             You’ll want the Solution

 Products and Options:
See the Products tab in the left column at the top or click here.

Pricing:
Only the highest quality military grade USA made materials have been used.
Less expensive than a Crash Helmet but just as important.

Preload - Seated Thickness of 802SAM
During the time when the driver is seated with helmet on and belts tight, the material will compress to about 60% of the original thickness.   This is normal Preload.

Compressible Space after preload +/- (approximate typical)
3” Pad = 1 3/4" of compressible space
2” Pad = 1 1/4" of compressible space
1” Pad =  3/4" of compressible space

The driver’s weight is supported by an equal force from the material.   This preload equalizes the driver and material leaving the rest of the compressible space for high speed impact forces.    The material conforms to body shape, eliminating pressure points, making the seat very comfortable for extended periods.

(3” headroom between helmet and the top of the roll cage is recommended.  Measure with helmeted driver seated and belted with the pad in place.   Adjust seat height or pad as necessary.)

Why is 2” standard if 3” is best ?

So, why is the standard product bottom pad only 2” thick?   
Many drivers do not have the headroom for the 3” pad.   
The 2” pad is what many have used and it is most economical for the buyer to not have to buy extra material that will not be used.   
The 3" or 2" Crash Pad can be reduced in half inch increments down to 1” if needed, by removing 1/2" layers.  
A 2” pad can be upgraded to 2 1/2" or 3” by simply inserting the 1" upgrade material into the standard product and adjusting the combination of layers.
Choose what fits you best but remember the thicker the Crash Pad, the more space and time to disappate energy.   Remember that the seated thickness is less.

 

Benefits:

  • Up to 25% reduction in driver crash shock and impact
  • Works like a shock absorber for your spine.
  • Creates the critical space needed under you to dissipate impact energy over a longer period of time.
  • Puts some compressible space between your butt and the impact of the rear end into the bottom of the seat in a crash.
  • Reusable - recovers to original capability in seconds – ready to go again
  • Simple - just put the Crash Pad in your seat and go
  • Take it with you from ride to ride
  • Removes quickly to wash the car- wipes clean with damp cloth
  • Adjustable width - fits 14" to 18" width seats
  • Adjustable thickness - 1/2" layers can be added or removed for 1" to 3" thickness.
  • US Military testing found this material BEST to reduce the risk of spinal injury for the same problem.
  • Proven tough outer covering
  • Does not support flame
  • Unchanged "seat of the pants" feel of the car
  • Bonus – it is super comfortable- eliminates pressure points.

Important Notes:
Foam Rubber can make an impact worse.  It compresses with increasing push back like a spring and then springs back which actually drives the spine upward into the still downward moving head.  Tests have found that Foam Rubber can add 2 or more G’s to a 10 G impact, making the impact worse than having nothing at all in the seat.

GelCels may help reduce pressure points and make the seat more comfortable but they are a sealed hydraulic system that will become as rigid as the seat bottom in high speed impact.  GelCels are no better than nothing at all in a crash.

Foam in Place / Expanding Foam inserts are designed to fill all the gaps around the driver but do not provide any space under the driver’s butt for impact absorption.    Some very expensive inserts are one time use and must be replaced after a crash.   A driver may not have the time or money to replace an insert and may go without.

Disclaimer:
The Crash Pad and 802SAM material is intended to reduce impact and the risk of spinal injury.   Installation recommendations are provided but the ultimate responsibility for correct use, adjustments, measurements and installation rests with the purchaser and or user of the product.   The product should not be used if the installation compromises the recommendations for the use of other safety components or measurements.   Pad thickness may raise the driver to a height that compromises the recommended helmet to top of roll cage clearance.   In this case, adjustments must be made.

Continue to learn more in    Deeper Analysis

Ready to order?   Go to Crash Pad Products on the top left.

Pad your Butt to Save Your Neck !
Less expensive than a Crash Helmet but just as important.