Kenneth Joyce has been involved in the motorsport industry for over 30 years as a driver, team member and supplier. As a driver, he started in the short track Sportsman Stocks and Late Models at Baer Field Speedway in Fort Wayne, IN. He then joined Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) and ran Solo events before moving up to the Formula Ford 1600 class in the Central Division. During this time he worked for a parts supplier traveling with the CART IndyCar circuit and later spent a few years as a CART Team Member.
Ken became involved in the safety side of motorsport in 2000 when he was the Project Manager for a company manufacturing the carbon fiber yokes for the Hans Device. There he worked closely with Jim Downing, Bob Hubbard and many others who were the main core professionals involved in motorsport safety, as it became a key area of improvement during that period.
In 2007 he started KRJ Race Products, which is a supplier of the Hans Device and various other safety equipment products. Ken spends time visiting local short tracks in Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio, speaking with drivers and teams in an effort to help them with driver safety questions and concerns, or pointing out areas of improvement such as proper seat belt mounting, seat mounting, seat padding and head surrounds. Ken resides in Brownsburg, IN with his wife, Bev.
5 QUESTIONS WITH AN AMBASSADOR
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.