Glen Gray, NHRA’s Vice President, Technical Operations, confirmed to Competition Plus Tuesday, the innovative fully-enclosed canopy Tony Schumacher tested with at Palm Beach (Fla.) International Raceway Jan. 15-21 has still yet to be approved for use.
“We have been working closely with DSR on things that the (NHRA) Safety Safari looked at,” Gray said. “We obviously asked our Safety Safari to take a good look and make recommendations to us and to DSR about any changes they felt would be needed to make it easier to extract the driver in the event of an accident or any other safety concerns they may have about it.”
Gray said NHRA’s Safety Safari first looked at the canopy at the season-opening Winternationals Feb. 9-12 in Pomona.
“The second time they (Safety Safari) looked at it was probably at Gainesville (Fla., March 8-12),” Gray said. “We have had different people from the Safety Safari who attend different races take a look at it (the canopy) and make their recommendations and DSR has complied with those recommendations and they have incorporated that into their design.”
According to Gray, NHRA’s Safety Safari new recommendations for the canopy were as follows:
“To put a five-pound fire extinguisher (fire system) on it and also a fresh air system, similar to what is on a Funny Car,” Gray said. “Also, to make all fasteners that attach the panels the same and also make them (the fasteners) easy to see at night, so they could get the cases off if they needed to. These fasteners also will also have an allen-type center piece, so that if the car were to slide during an accident and it messed up both sides of the bolt you would still be able to get it off with a different type of an allen tool. There also would be some small doors down by the foot area that could be popped open so a hose could be brought in and flood it with fire retardant. They (the small doors) would be needed if there were any problems with the fire extinguisher system or if the driver was unable to activate it.”
When Tony Schumacher and his DSR teammate Antron Brown did dual burnouts prior to NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Coca-Cola 600 last Sunday, Schumacher’s dragster was sporting a canopy.
“They ran their canopy at Charlotte (last) weekend in the burnout and I do not think those things (recommendations) were on there yet,” Gray said.
Another issue NHRA is examining with the fully-enclosed cockpit is whether it could provide a performance advantage.
“We have got the canopy out for an aero study at a university, and they are going to give us their findings in a few weeks,” said Gray, who declined to name the university doing the study for NHRA. “Then, we are going to sit down and take a look at it and see if there is any competitive advantage from an aerodynamic standpoint.”
Although eight of the 23 races on NHRA’s 2012 schedule have been completed, Gray doesn’t believe the canopy approval process has become drawn out.
“First of all, I do not think it is taking long at all,” Gray said. “This was a new concept. The first time we saw it completed was in December. It is not unusual in the case of something that is so radically different than what we are running today to take the time and do the due diligence and make sure that there are no problems caused by the introduction of new piece like that. We need to make sure that it does not pose any competitive advantage to have the canopy and that it is available to anyone who would like to buy it. Schumacher Racing is working hand in hand with Aerodine (Composites). Aerodyne is going to sell the canopy to any team that wants to purchase it.”
Aerodine Composites is based in Indianapolis.
“We are just going to get the information back from university, analyze the information that we have and then work hand in hand with Aerodine and DSR to figure out what the next step is,” Gray said.
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