DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 30,
2003) - NASCAR officials announced today that all vehicles in the NASCAR
Winston Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
will require an additional fire-extinguishing cylinder solely dedicated to
the fuel cell area, effective Aug. 13 but recommended immediately.
An automatic, thermally activated discharge nozzle recommended by the
manufacturer for this application must activate the cylinder, which is
required to be made of DOT-approved metal. The automatic system may have a
manual and/or pneumatic override from the driver-activated system. The
cylinder must be mounted in the driver's compartment and will attach to a
steel bracket welded to the frame and/or roll cage of the vehicle.
When discharged, the extinguisher releases Halon in the area of the fire.
Halon, a proven and extremely effective fire suppressant, is a liquefied
compressed gas that stops the spread of fire by chemically disrupting
combustion. A minimum of 10 pounds of fire extinguishing agent is required
in the cylinder for the fuel cell area.
"We've been working diligently on fire prevention and fire containment at
the NASCAR Research and Development Center over the last few months,"
NASCAR Research and Development Managing Director Gary Nelson said. "After
researching and testing various systems, we felt this was the most viable
one for containment of potential fires coming from the fuel cell area."
In addition to the fire extinguisher cylinder being added for the fuel
cell area, NASCAR has enhanced its requirements and specifications for the
current on-board driver protection system as well as the fuel cell vent
The cockpit extinguisher, a manually controlled push or pull knob that
activates a fully charged fire-extinguishing pressurized cylinder, now
must contain a minimum of five pounds of extinguishing agent. Should the
cylinder also be used for fire extinguishing in the engine compartment, it
must contain a minimum of 10 pounds of extinguishing agent. The cylinder
also must be securely mounted to the frame and/or roll cage, and hose
clamps, worm drive clamps and cable ties are not permitted. In addition,
all discharge lines and fittings for the cylinders must be steel or
steel-reinforced hose although the nozzles may remain aluminum.
A maximum length for the neck of the fuel cell check valve vent hose has
been set at three inches. By limiting length, it will make the component
more impact resistant. The neck connects the fuel cell to the fuel cell
vent hose and is located inside the trunk area of the vehicle. To
accommodate the maximum neck length standard, fuel cell vent hoses will
increase in length from 60 inches to a maximum of 66 inches.
"While researching this issue, we also identified other areas that could
be improved by modifying the requirements or specifications for the
teams," Nelson said. "We were able to make improvements to the driver and
fuel cell/trunk compartments, and identify the best ways to install and
apply the technology during this process."
In a related project, NASCAR will conduct a test of its alternate exit, or
more commonly known as the roof hatch, on Aug. 6 at the Midwest Roadside
Facility in Lincoln, Neb. NASCAR, which is working closely with facility
director Dr. Dean Sicking on this project, will conduct a crash test that
will simulate a rollover-type accident. A successful test could lead to a
recommendation of the safety component by NASCAR to teams in the NASCAR
Winston Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series. This safety initiative will
provide drivers with an alternate exit through a hatch in the roof of the
car in the event of an emergency situation.
The author can be contacted
Go to our
to discuss this article