Look Ma, No HANS

HARDSHIPS OFTEN GENERATE INNOVATION. The need to sanitize the common objects that we touch can be done in many old-school ways, but some situations require special consideration. If you were a police officer, with little choice but to move a series of people through your vehicle on each shift, you would have real health safety concerns. You can’t put the vehicle out of service after each contact to sanitize it, so what do you do? You would also expose the next “client” to whatever was left behind by the previous one. No wonder that infection levels are so high amongst first responders.

The engineers at Ford came up with a quick fix. They are providing software that, with a series of complicated electronic commands, locks the empty vehicle, raises the engine RPMs and uses 133-degree interior heat to kill any germs in the vehicle. After 15 minutes of heat, the vehicle goes through a cool-down cycle and is ready to go again. The system works better than physical sanitizing, since it kills all germs in every crevice that might be missed in a physical wipe down. So if you’re caught after your next hand sanitizer and toilet paper heist, make sure they transport you in a Ford SUV.

No one can doubt that the HANS device was a brilliant invention. First adopted by racers and now required in caged DE cars, the HANS (Head And Neck Shoulder) device protects your neck from the additional weight of your helmet in the event of high G loads. There is one thing I don’t understand about them though, so if anyone knows the answer I’d love to hear it. With the standard harness set utilizing three-inch belts, why was the HANS designed to channel two-inch belts? Am I missing something here? Why should I have to reduce the size of my main shoulder and chest restraints by 30 percent in order to protect my neck? Was it an attempt at cornering the market for harnesses? I really don’t know, but I would like to. Don’t hesitate to drop me a note. It just doesn’t make sense to me since the narrower harnesses focus more force per square inch on your chest.

By now most of you are aware that we’ve adopted a “cancel and move on” system in order to protect the club from economic hardship. We’ve cancelled the IDS program, students who require instructors, the Club Race and Driven2Smile. None of us are very happy about that, but I hope you understand that it had to be done. I’ve spent years trying to encourage our members to give DE a try. Asking them to come out and be a part of our program and enjoy their car in its natural environment. Then along comes a pandemic and we have to send you all home. I would like to apologize for your disappointment, but in order for there to be a program to come back to, we have no choice.

That brings me to the July event. We are hosting all solo-lapping drivers at the Driver Development Track on Friday, July 17. I hope those who originally signed up for the weekend will also consider signing up for Friday as well. We need another dozen drivers to break even and make the day worthwhile. We are committed to the remainder of the season, so we can’t operate any of the events at a loss. At $100 with lunch included you can’t find cheaper track time. The Driver Development Track is a great facility where you can slow down and work on your finesse. Your cornering skills will benefit from being able to see all of the corner’s exits, allowing you to make small adjustments and see the immediate results. It’s a fun little track and with four small run groups there should be lots of room to enjoy it, so again, please sign up if you are already signed up for Saturday and Sunday.

We will be opening the internal track gates at 5 p.m. so anyone who doesn’t have a street-legal car can drive over to the main track for our Saturday and Sunday event. That event will be conducted the same as the May 30 event, complete with drive-through meals and lots of social distancing. It’s our goal to keep you safe, both on and off the track. If anyone has any concerns that we haven’t already addressed, please don’t hesitate to contact me. The whole team has been making an effort to make this work and we can always use your help. We will need the special PCA COVID-19 waiver signed again as it’s been replaced by a Canadian version and posted on the website for download. Signing it once will cover you for the remainder of the season, so if you come to multiple events you won’t have to do it again this year.

During the winter off-season our chief instructor, with some input, chooses the three driver awards from the previous season’s data. We like to give out those awards at our first May event, so those drivers’ achievements can be recognized by their peers. With the first of May event cancelled and the end of May event as our first COVID-19 DE experience, we’ve been unable to distribute those awards. Since it looks like this situation will continue for some time we need to name those individuals. If they are coming to the July event I’ll be happy to hand them their awards, otherwise I’ll be happy to courier them if they have been cancelled in a student group.

The person who won 2019 Rookie Of The Year for outstanding performance of a new driver is Ginger Drew. The person who won 2019 Most Improved for the most advancement in a single season is Kyle Vojdani. The person who won 2019 Instructor Of The Year for his outstanding contributions to the DE program is Mario Marotta. Each of these three people has shown themself to be exceptional in their achievement in, and support of, the PCA UCR Driver Education Program. I wish we could all stand and applaud them as they receive their awards, but these are different times. They each have the track team’s warmest gratitude and respect for their hard work.

See you trackside soon! </>

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