A team of researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Midwest Roadside Safety Facility was honored with the 2017 John Melvin Motorsports Safety Award for their development of the Steel and Foam Energy Reduction Barrier (SAFER Barrier).
Established in 2016, this award honors individuals, organizations or teams whose research and/or practical application represents unique, original concepts that, when applied to motorsports, cause significant positive change and elevate safety to new levels of innovation, in the memory of Dr. John Melvin.
With funding from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indy Racing League, and NASCAR, the team of specialists designed, developed, and crash tested the SAFER Barrier. The SAFER Barrier is a technology found on oval automobile race tracks and high-speed sections of road and street courses, absorbs and reduces kinetic energy during the impact of a high-speed crash, and thus, lessen injuries sustained to drivers and spectators.
Since the installation of the SAFER Barrier, there have been no driver fatalities in NASCAR or lndyCar events resulting from errant racecars hitting a retaining wall at a track where the SAFER Barrier was installed. The barrier design and development was led by Dean Sicking and the team from the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The initial funding for the research came from Tony George of the Indy Racing League (IRL) and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS).
Members of the research team include:
- Dean Sicking, UAB Associate VP for Product Development
- Ronald K. Faller, Director and Research Professor, Midwest Roadside Safety Facility, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
- Karla A. Lechtenberg, Research Engineer, Midwest Roadside Safety Facility, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
- Robert W. Bielenberg, Research Engineer, Midwest Roadside Safety Facility, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
- Anton George, Owner, Vision Investments, LLC
- James C. Holloway, Assistant Director Physical Testing Division, Midwest Roadside Safety Facility, University of Nebraska
- John D. Reid, Professor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
- John R. Rohde, retired, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
SAE International is a global association committed to being the ultimate knowledge source for the engineering profession. They encouraging a lifetime of learning for mobility engineering professionals and set standards for industry engineering.
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