Honda introduces fueling safety cut-off
Honda Performance Development will incorporate a refueling lockout device on IZOD IndyCar Series cars in 2010 in an effort to further reduce the possibility of fuel spills and fire during pit stops.
A sensor next to the refueling coupling behind the driver's shoulder will recognize the proximity of the fuel probe and prevent the driver from shifting into gear (from neutral) until it has cleared the pre-set distance.
"It should prevent anybody driving off with the probe in the car," IZOD IndyCar Series technical director Kevin Blanch said. "All the electronics are existing parts on the car except the sensor. The rest is software."
The system, being tested at Honda Performance Development in Santa Clarita, Calif., likely will receive further evaluation during the Open Test on Feb. 24-25 at Barber Motorsports Park. It is scheduled to be added following the Indianapolis 500 on May 30, according to HPD technical division manager Roger Griffiths.
The lockout device will complement Indy Racing League safeguards in place for the quick and hectic pit stops during races. The IZOD IndyCar Series is the only motorsports series that utilizes 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol - a renewable and environmentally-responsible fuel - in its Honda Indy V8 engines.
A "deadman" engages a spring-loaded lever on the fuel tank that allows the gravity-fed fuel to flow through a hose and the probe that is inserted into the coupling by the refueler. The deadman, not part of the over-the-wall crew, can halt the flow of fuel to the 22-gallon cell by releasing the lever.
Additionally, the deadman controls a button that activates/deactivates air to the probe - an element re-introduced by the sanctioning body in 2009.
The Indy Racing League also researched and tested various fuel hoses before mandating one that splits in two - again if the driver pulled out of the pit stall with the probe still engaged.
"People get confused and have asked why did the hose rip?" Blanch said. "That's what we want because there's only two gallons of fuel in the hose and that's a lot less mess than ripping the tank over the wall or jerking the car sideways into other cars."