By David G. Firestone
So after over 15 hours and 1262 miles of auto racing, the Memorial Day Trifecta is complete. The Grand Prix of Monaco, The Indianapolis 500, and the Coca Cola 600 have passed us by. I watched all 3 events, and I noticed something that I’d been wondering about, and it really made me mad.
As I discussed on Friday, this is the 50th anniversary of the implementation of Nomex as a material for driver suits. It’s one of the most important safety advancements in the history of auto racing. The 1964 Indianapolis 500 and the 1964 World 600 were the two races that helped bring the issue of fire protection to light. By 1967, three years later, Nomex would hit the racing scene, and has saved countess lives in racing accidents.
You would think that at least one of the telecasts would discuss this at least once…but no. None of the telecasts discussed it. The only time it was mentioned was on a special during the weather delay in the Coca Cola 600, and all that did was to mention the crash and fire, and didn’t even discuss that it led to Nomex.
Why is this being ignored? This is, again, one of the most important advancements in the history of auto racing, and this is the 50th Anniversary of it’s introduction. I could understand some of the telecasts during other races not talking about it, but the Indy 500 and the Coca Cola 600 not talking about it makes no sense.
The HANS device, the SAFER Barrier, and the new designs of race cars are all important, but Nomex was the original driver safety advancement, and 50 years after being implemented, it is still the best material for driver suits. Sit back and think about that for a minute. In a world where technology is advancing to the point it’s impossible to keep up sometimes, Nomex has been the best material to make driver suits for 50 years. Granted, the newer Nomex is designed to be more comfortable, but nothing has surpassed it.
With all the talk about auto racing safety in recent weeks, I would love to see a piece during a pre-race show about what Nomex is, and why it’s so important. I think the issue needs to be discussed, and I can only hope it will be discussed.