INDYCAR seeks to initiate catch fence study
Initiating a study of racetrack catch fencing is among the priorities of INDYCAR orthopedic consultant Dr. Terry Trammell at the FIA Institute for Motorsport Safety’s thrice-annual meeting next week in France.
Trammell, Dr. Henry Bock and Dr. Steven Olvey are the founding fellows of the organization that includes the motorsports medical community throughout the world.
“The big focus this round is the technique used to extricate an unconscious driver from a race car and whether you need too at all,” Trammell said. “We have a great deal of data to support how INDYCAR does it, what needs to be done and why it needs to be done.
“We also have been trying to initiate a study of fencing and come up with some better ideas about how to manage fencing to satisfy the need to keep the car and car parts out of the crowd and have a lesser potential for injuring the driver.
“We’re in the information-gathering stage right now to discern whether it’s something we can do ourselves or through collaboration with the FIA Institute. The biggest thing is to develop a very logical approach to identifying what the fence has to do.”
Trammell said INDYCAR is committed “to investigate this and follow up” in the same manner as INDYCAR taking the lead in developing the SAFER Barrier, which was installed first at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway 10 years ago. How the project would be funded and time frame are on Trammell’s checklist.
There has been no shortage of suggestions through the years, and interest was heightened in mid-October 2011 when two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon succumbed to injuries suffered in a racing accident in which his car slid along the catch fence and stuck a support pole.
“We’ve looked at clear plates, but they can be heavy and don’t let air pass through them,” Trammell said of potential options to replace fencing and poles. “We’ve looked at different ways to hang the fence, like a curtain to act as more of a catch, and also connecting it to the safer. We’ll start the discussion. There’s a lot of potential for interaction across the pond.” IndyCar.com