5 Questions with an Ambassador

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garybarnard's picture

Gary Barnard

Username: garybarnard

Ambassador Areas: IndyCar, Marshal Safety

1) What do you consider to be the single greatest advancement in motorsport safety in the last 50 years?

I can't really decide between them, so I have to go with 2: the SAFER barrier and the HANS device.


2) You can either implement one new motorsport rule or get rid of an existing one. Which option do you choose and what rule would it be?

I would implement a consistent rule against blocking to be implemented in all racing. Blocking leads to accidents, and unfortunately, it is not only legal in some forms of racing, it seems to be encouraged.


3) What is your favorite racing circuit and why?

Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. It is where I saw my first race, and the start of the Indy 500 is still the most exciting moment of the year to me. Being a small part of it is a big privilege.


4) Who is your hero?

Rick Mears. A great driver and a great gentleman.


5) What do you hope to accomplish as an MSF Ambassador?

I hope to encourage greater protection for marshals, as well as to encourage safer procedures for marshals via training and review. They are a very important part of what we do, so we need to be sure they stay safe.


gcottingham's picture

Gene Cottingham

Username: gcottingham

Ambassador Areas: Marketing

What do you consider to be the single greatest advancement in motorsport safety in the last 50 years?

The HANS device.


You can either implement one new motorsport rule or get rid of an existing one. Which option do you choose and what rule would it be?

Implement closed cockpits on all cars.


What is your favorite racing circuit and why?

Watkins Glen International. Technical, yet fast circuit. Beautiful area. Wonderful track staff.


Who is your hero?

My father.


What do you hope to accomplish as an MSF Ambassador?

To further the message of safety in motorsport.


grandruthie's picture

Ruthie Forbes

Username: grandruthie

Ambassador Areas: Marketing

What do you consider to be the single greatest advancement in motorsport safety in the last 50 years?

There are many, but I would have to focus on the Safer Barrier, because I was impacted in its first use. I was handling crisis communications for Arie Luyendyk when he made contact during the IROC race, and had first hand experience regarding its benefit.


You can either implement one new motorsport rule or get rid of an existing one. Which option do you choose and what rule would it be?

I think the major sanctioning bodies are doing a sufficient job governing their respective series, so my interest lies more in having each governing body work more directly and consistently with the promoters to ensure at-track safety procedures are more streamlined and as standardized as they can be given the different configurations and budgets allocated by the promoters.


What is your favorite racing circuit and why?

Barber Motorsports Park - the track is highly technical and serves a variety of motorsport. I would call it the "Augusta of Motorsport" due to the beautiful nature of the facility and the staff's meticulous attention to detail for the environment and their fans. The promoter team is truly a joy to work with and their appreciation of their customers (series, teams and fans) shows.


Who is your hero?

There have been so many people who have made an impact on my life and my career that it would be difficult to single out just one. But I would have say that my mom has been the most influential. She has been my barometer and my base for every decision that I make, despite the fact that she still has NO idea what I do for a living. Regardless, her advice is still sound.


What do you hope to accomplish as an MSF Ambassador?

My background in communications and events tends to direct my goals toward raising awareness for new technology and innovation that can elevate all aspects of motorsport - not just for the participants, but for the promoters and the fans.


DarrenHickey's picture

Darren Hickey

Username: DarrenHickey

Ambassador Areas: Insurance

1) What do you consider to be the single greatest advancement in motorsport safety in the last 50 years?

The development and implementation of the HANS Device and SAFER Barrier.


2) You can either implement one new motorsport rule or get rid of an existing one. Which option do you choose and what rule would it be?

Mandatory random drug and alcohol testing for all levels and types of professional racing.


3) What is your favorite racing circuit and why?

Indianapolis Motor Speedway because of the history and significance of what’s occurred there over the last 100 years.


4) Who is your hero?

A.J. Foyt


5) What do you hope to accomplish as an MSF Ambassador?

My mission as an MSF Ambassador is to increase awareness of state-of-the-art racing safety in the minds of everyone in motorsports - from drivers to safety teams to sanctioning bodies to fans to the media.


Mark HPDE Ambassador's picture

Mark Hicks

Username: Mark HPDE Ambassador

Ambassador Areas: HPDE

1) What do you consider to be the single greatest advancement in motorsport safety in the last 50 years?

Modern emphasis on driver cockpit safety. Since the 2001 death of Dale Earnhardt, there has been a revolution in seats, harness configuration, and of course head-and-neck restraints. This has also trickled down to street performance cars. Multi-airbag systems, active seatbelts, improved dashboard and door panel surfaces. All of this has led to decreases in injuries and fatalities. Also, it cannot be overlooked how improvements in track environmental safety have made a huge difference. Barrier construction and locations, and run-off zones.


2) You can either implement one new motorsport rule or get rid of an existing one. Which option do you choose and what rule would it be?

It's not competition related, but, I'd like to advocate for implementing a new rule requiring drivers to periodically RE-QUALIFY for street car driver's license renewal. In most states currently, when your license expires, you visit DOT and prove your identity, take a vision test, pay a fee, and get your new license. The only time a driver is actually tested on rules of the road and basic driver skills is when one acquires your FIRST driver's license. It is obvious to anyone that pays attention to daily driving, that there are many adult drivers that need a "refresher" on rules of the road and how to use a vehicle. NEW RULE: Routine license renewal should require a driver skills test.


3) What is your favorite racing circuit and why?

Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. Huge elevation change, majestic and dramatic lap, scenic setting, fantastic track safety, legendary history. Making laps there is euphoric!


4) Who is your hero?

Make that heroine... my wife, Maria. Easily, that's the one person that has influenced me the most in life. She is also a highly accomplished driver, track event expert and a manager for Chin Motorsports.


5) What do you hope to accomplish as an MSF Ambassador?

The HPDE/Track Day hobby has taken off in the past 10 years. There are many track events and providers today, offering opportunities for sports car owners to get track experience. But, there are not uniform guidelines for track day driver skills, nor for instructor qualifications. Through the MSF, I'd like to be a contributor to a national accreditation standard for track event providers.


Kenneth Joyce's picture

Kenneth Joyce

Username: Kenneth Joyce

Ambassador Areas: Driver Safety, USAC

1) What do you consider to be the single greatest advancement in motorsport safety in the last 50 years?

It is a bit tricky to pick just one motorsport safety advancement in the past 50 years. For example, the improvements in the helmet alone have been huge in the last 50 years. However, if I had to pick one that has been the greatest advancement and saved the most lives, it would have to be the introduction and development of the Hans Device and other SFI- and FIA-approved HNRs. I may be a bit biased since I have been involved with the Hans since 2000, but I and I'm sure many others would agree that the work Dr. Bob Hubbard and Jim Downing started in the mid '80s with the Hans has to be one of the single greatest advancements in motorsport safety.


2) You can either implement one new motorsport rule or get rid of an existing one. Which option do you choose and what rule would it be?

This one goes back to question 1. In most cases, drivers will spend more for speed and performance first, which makes sense in this industry, and then they look at what is left in the budget for safety. One rule I would like to see is more short tracks and sanctioning bodies (that currently do not mandate a SFI 38.1 HNR) give a minimum weight break to the car and driver for the use of proper safety equipment such as:

1. Deduct XXlbs for the use of a full containment seat. 
1.2 Deduct an additional XXlbs for the use of a Hans or other SFI 38.1 HNR. 

The weight deduction TBD by car class, current minimum weight etc. This way, the driver gains both safety and performance, and they can’t blame the track or sanctioning body for driving up the cost by mandating what they should be doing anyway but choose not to for their own reasoning.


3) What is your favorite racing circuit and why?

I would have to say it is Mid-Ohio. It's a great facility that they keep improving. It's the track I enjoyed driving the most and have the most laps on.


4) Who is your hero?

Not sure if I have a specific hero because there are so many great drivers, mechanics/car builders in this industry – past and present – that many of us look to as heroes. However, growing up in the '70s and going to many USAC Sprint, Midget and Champ Car races with my Dad at tracks like Winchester, Eldora, Terre Haute, New Bremen etc., the driver I did watch and learn a lot from was Larry Dickson. He was the biggest influence for me when I began racing as I tried to model his smooth, smart and consistent style. Larry was usually there at the front when the race ended and not on the hook. You could see him plan and set up every pass and he raced a clean race. He was a great example of the racing term, “Smooth is Fast.”


5) What do you hope to accomplish as an MSF Ambassador?

As one of the Ambassadors with MSF, I plan to continue my education in the field of Motorsport Safety and apply that with my past Safety experience. The goal is to help educate and share that technical assistance with tracks, drivers, teams and sanctioning bodies that I deal with locally, along with others in the MSF. If we can continue to inform and educate others to help them make the needed improvements to tracks, cars and personal safety, then we have made a positive accomplishment. The sport we know and love always has and always will be dangerous. That thrill and excitement is what makes it the sport it is. Helping keep that thrill and excitement and, at the same time, helping to try bring everyone back home to their family is what all of us in the Foundation and the Motorsport Safety industry in general would like to accomplish.


jackjoy's picture

Jack Joyner

Username: jackjoy

Ambassador Areas: BMW CCA

1) What do you consider to be the single greatest advancement in motorsport safety in the last 50 years?

The HANS Device.


2) You can either implement one new motorsport rule or get rid of an existing one. Which option do you choose and what rule would it be?

I would implement a rule based on risk factors when not going in the proper direction. All tracks must be run in the manner in which they were designed, regardless of car, driver or ability.


3) What is your favorite racing circuit and why?

Road Atlanta, if you get it right it is very fast and a ton of fun. And when you do it right you can still scare yourself.


4) Who is your hero?

I believe people are people, some do the right thing and some don't. It is hard for me to think of a hero when we all have the ability to be great, we just have to make good decisions.


5) What do you hope to accomplish as an MSF Ambassador?

My goal is to educate the motorsports community on limiting the risk factors associated with our sport. The more knowledge we have, the better choices we can make, limiting the risk factors of such a wonderful sport.


Jeff Milges's picture

Jeffrey Milges

Username: Jeff Milges

Ambassador Areas: Boat Racing, Medical Safety, Truck Racing

1) What do you consider to be the single greatest advancement in motorsport safety in the last 50 years?

It seems each advancement comes with tragedy. On the face of things, most venues won't want to spend money on safety equipment unless it's mandated. This is a broad statement, I know, but you only have to go to most tracks on a Saturday night to know that this has validity. There are many things, safer barriers, COTs, Hans, telemetry, and even fire suit materials, but one thing that stands out to me is FireAde 2000. This isn't a push for one brand, but this was the first hydrocarbon encapsulating agent I had ever used with phenomenal results. I know people like cold fire, or the other similar agents, but the fire fighting knockdown power that I have on my truck rivals most fire trucks for a flammable liquid fire. After putting out a running fuel fire, I have no doubt in my mind that it cannot re-flash. During our training program, I even walk through gasoline with a propane blow torch trying to ignite the fuel after it was extinguished with FireAde 2000. Now it is not the perfect agent for all types of fires, but it is my first choice of weapon to save someone's life when threatened by fire.


2) You can either implement one new motorsport rule or get rid of an existing one. Which option do you choose and what rule would it be?

I would mandate minimum training and equipment for Safety/Rescue Teams. NFPA-610 is a start, but it isn't any good if tracks ignore it, and fire departments don't know about it. There are still many tracks where there are NO rescue teams at all. In this day and age, why people would even race there is mind-boggling. The image of a guy in a bunker coat, jeans and gym shoes, with a cigarette in one hand and fire extinguisher in the other... sitting in a 20 year-old pickup with MAYBE a crowbar is still occurring at Motor Sport Venues... and they don't know any better. They think they know what they are doing and why should they change? The track operators look at the bottom line; after all, it's a business. But even with Waivers of Liability tracks are losing lawsuits. Look at Wolfgang vs World of Outlaws, or the Gratton vs Super Boat International. Negligent Rescue. You know the risks, but you ignored them. We have to be pushing for greater standards for ourselves. If we don't, the government will start regulating the sport. This will put racing out of the reach of many people, and venues will close.


3) What is your favorite racing circuit and why?

I actually like the smaller dirt tracks with Sprint Car racing. The action is always fast, and I know that there will be an accident or fire... just a matter of time. I am not working at a track to be earning overtime, or sleeping. I am there to save someone's life or property


4) Who is your hero?

I liked President Reagan, but Jesus is the only person I had ever looked up to.


5) What do you hope to accomplish as an MSF Ambassador?

I hope to share my experiences from the fire service and racing experience to bring a standard to racing safety. All firefighters are not equal in skills or knowledge. Why are some firefighting programs only 40 hours for volunteers, and 640 hours for professional certification? It's the same job, same tools, right? I would not even profess to know what a CFR (Crash Fire Rescue) firefighter knows about aircraft firefighting, the safety systems, or egress of a burning aircraft. Race rescue is a specialized field, and it should be treated as such. I am honored that the Motorsport Safety Foundation chose me to be an Ambassador. I will try to be informative and assist you with any questions you may have.


Pmonte's picture

Peter Monte

Username: Pmonte

Ambassador Areas: Karting

1) What do you consider to be the single greatest advancement in motorsport safety in the last 50 years?

The development of SAFER barriers has to be one of the top safety advancements in motorsports in recent years. The energy absorbing capabilities has saved many drivers from serious injury.


2) You can either implement one new motorsport rule or get rid of an existing one. Which option do you choose and what rule would it be?

Karting is an open wheel sport intended to have limited contact between the karts on the track. Too many times I see new drivers, both young and old, try to make a pass by shoving another kart either going into a corner or coming out of a corner. This is not the way to make a pass. Good drivers look for an opportunity to make a clean pass on another driver. I would like to see stiffer penalties for aggressive driving.


3) What is your favorite racing circuit and why?

My favorite track is the New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, New Jersey. The track is both technical and has some nice long straightaways. The elevation changes are also great to drive on. It is a great karting facility for both new and experienced drivers.


4) Who is your hero?

Hero is a very powerful title. I would have to say drivers like Mario Andretti, Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna, Lewis Hamilton and some of the great drivers in our sport.


5) What do you hope to accomplish as an MSF Ambassador?

My goal as a MSF Ambassador is to help spread the awareness and the development of safety in motorsports. We all love this sport and want to see it continue to grow. But more importantly, we want to see all of our drivers race again and someday, when they retire, hear their stories about, "When I used to race..."


wardenwoods's picture

Alan Thomas

Username: wardenwoods

Ambassador Areas: Volunteer Safety

1) What do you consider to be the single greatest advancement in motorsport safety in the last 50 years?

Organized race track "Control" organizations.


2) You can either implement one new motorsport rule or get rid of an existing one. Which option do you choose and what rule would it be?

Enforcement of the "Counter Race" policy. Race ops need to keep the traffic going the same direction


3) What is your favorite racing circuit and why?

Sorry, don't have a favorite. Too many to choose from, both road course, temp road course & oval. Maybe my "Home Track" temp road course here in Toronto.


4) Who is your hero?

My father, Dr. Alan M. Thomas, C.M.


5) What do you hope to accomplish as an MSF Ambassador?

My motorsports goal is to educate our community, and have an age restriction implemented North America-wide restricting those under 18 from being "over the wall." No tracks should allow children trackside.


billwade's picture

Bill Wade

Username: billwade

Ambassador Areas: BMW CCA

1) What do you consider to be the single greatest advancement in motorsport safety in the last 50 years?

Crash safety with the understanding of energy dissipation. Not trying to have the driver survive by building a tank of a structure, but rather let the crash energy be deflected away from the driver.


2) You can either implement one new motorsport rule or get rid of an existing one. Which option do you choose and what rule would it be?

Spec tires in any series.


3) What is your favorite racing circuit and why?

Watkins Glen because of the complexity of the circuit - speed, technical sections, elevation changes - and its rich history.


4) Who is your hero?

Dan Gurney.


5) What do you hope to accomplish as an MSF Ambassador?

To help spread the passion of Motorsports to a new generation, and to keep and enhance safety for all participants.


Danny White's picture

Danny White

Username: Danny White

Ambassador Areas: Fire Safety, Midget, NHRA

1) What do you consider to be the single greatest advancement in motorsport safety in the last 50 years?

The collective and collaborative efforts that went into the drafting of NFPA 610 Guide for Emergency and Safety Operations at Motorsport Venues.


2) You can either implement one new motorsport rule or get rid of an existing one. Which option do you choose and what rule would it be?

I would add one. The rule would need to be agreed upon by ACCUS but, mandatory full course yellows anytime a safety truck/worker is on the track.


3) What is your favorite racing circuit and why?

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It is the granddaddy of them all and many safety innovations have come from this legendary place.


4) Who is your hero?

President John F. Kennedy.


5) What do you hope to accomplish as an MSF Ambassador?

To make a difference, be a resource where I can as we transition Motorsport Safety to a proactive arm that engages track owners, insurance brokers, team owners, team members, safety workers and drivers to bring the best safety management choices to the sport. To work at all levels to help those at the top understand how they can see a return on their investment with great safety initiatives and those that do the work to understand all the latest to keep them safe and healthy. To use the resources of Purdue University and others to do the research and development to take us to the next level and develop solutions that work.


keithwyss's picture

Keith Wyss

Username: keithwyss

Ambassador Areas: ARCA, NASCAR, Pit Lane Safety

1) What do you consider to be the single greatest advancement in motorsport safety in the last 50 years?

The change in attitude concerning safety is the greatest advancement in motorsports safety. Seeing the change from safety being a subject for wimps to being a mainstream subject for the best and the bravest is gratifying. In terms of hardware, it would be tough to choose between head/neck restraints, full containment seats, and fuel cells as the single greatest advancement.


2) You can either implement one new motorsport rule or get rid of an existing one. Which option do you choose and what rule would it be?

The rule that should be implemented universally is the mandatory use of head/neck restraints and full containment seats. This rule is not new - the "across the board" application would be. If your speed exceeds 40 mph, you need this device - period! The full containment seats work in conjunction with the head/neck restraints to reduce morbidity and mortality in racing incidents.


3) What is your favorite racing circuit and why?

My favorite circuit overall would have to be the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It has such a rich history... I served there early in my career on the Medical Team, and it's only about 2 hours from my home. Eldora Speedway would have to be very high on this list. I spent several years working with the Safety Team there. The racing on this legendary 1/2 mile dirt track literally keeps you on your toes all the time! Two other tracks deserving mention in this category are Jennerstown Speedway in SW Pennsylvania and Lake County Speedway in NE Ohio. J-town is a 1/2 mile paved track. It's wide, it's smooth, and it's very racy. Lake County is a 1/5 mile track. All the banking of a Walmart parking lot, and racy as can be! And yes, when our trucks race there, someone always goes home angry! All of the tracks I mentioned also have exceptional safety programs. I'm proud to work with them.


4) Who is your hero?

The word "hero" is not one I use often. I do have people I hold in high respect. Mel Kenyon is a driver I've had the honor to know for many years. No one drove a Midget like Kenyon. He survived terrible burns from an IndyCar crash many years ago and has served as a Christian example to all who come in contact with him. A gentleman who deserves mention in this discussion is Dewayne Dimit. His impact on racing safety over the years is huge. The company he and his friends started years ago, Professional Track Services, was one of the first "professional" racing safety groups. They worked drag races, short tracks, superspeedways, and road courses. Their equipment, staffing, and procedures have been imitated by many other organizations. He was my mentor in the early days, and I still have the honor of working with him today.


5) What do you hope to accomplish as an MSF Ambassador?

My mission as an MSF Ambassador is to increase awareness of state-of-the-art racing safety in the minds of everyone in motorsports - from drivers to safety teams to sanctioning bodies to fans to the media.


blueflagger's picture

Ute Zettlitzer

Username: blueflagger

Ambassador Areas: Volunteer Safety

1) What do you consider to be the single greatest advancement in motorsport safety in the last 50 years?

Roll cages.


2) You can either implement one new motorsport rule or get rid of an existing one. Which option do you choose and what rule would it be?

Only dispatch safety workers under a full course yellow AFTER the safety car has picked up the field.


3) What is your favorite racing circuit and why?

Road America because of the beautiful set-up, the length of the track (you can have bigger fields without compromising the safety of the race) and last, but not least... the food! (I'm German... I need my brats).


4) Who is your hero?

Very tough question... there are so many! Henrique Cisneros for getting MSF started, every safety worker at any track for putting their lives on the line to save another on the track, and a lot of the drivers.
 


5) What do you hope to accomplish as an MSF Ambassador?

To spread the word about MSF and get more people to rethink safety. To save more lives at race tracks.


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