In 2015, IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe slammed into a wall at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway while travelling more than 220 miles per hour. Two decades earlier, another driver crashed on that same stretch of track, dying instantly. But Hinchcliffe survived, suffering injures from a piece of the car striking his leg, rather than from any trauma from the impact.
The difference? Today, the wall is covered in a barrier made of steel and foam – the creation of Dean Sicking. Sicking has been researching his SAFER barrier concept since 1998, and the invention is credited with saving the lives of some of racing’s most beloved drivers – as well as those of countless motorists on the country’s roadways, where his technology has been used to make safer guardrails. After decades of working to improve the safety of driving, Sicking has now turned his attention to another area that could benefit from more energy absorbent safety materials: football.
By Jake New