It was a busy day at the track at Watkins Glen International. Sports cars reached speeds in the triple digits and the adrenaline rush was through the roof. However, safety technologies allow drivers to stay put in their vehicles when things turn upside down.
“Relative to racers, and teams and set up, is remind people to optimize, in a way the seat, the way the helmet, the HANS device…” Robert Masson, neurosurgeon at Masson Spinal Institute, said.
The HANS device is a Head and Neck Support device. This is one of the numerous safety technologies that drivers use, including fire suits, seatbelts and helmets.
The strong forces and speeds that these drivers ride in can sometimes alter the safety impact of these components on their bodies.
“A couple years ago I had an accident. High speed, head on accident, and the compression of the seatbelts when you hit, the seatbelts kind of pull you down into the seat,” Max Faulkner, co-driver of the No. 21 Bodymotion Porsche Cayman, said. “I didn’t have any padding on the seat, because I’m quite tall, I couldn’t fit in the car if I had any padding there, and when I got that compression, i actually broke my tailbone.”
It’s not only accidents that can stress the spine. Jason Rabe, also co-driver of the No. 21 Bodymotion Porsche Cayman, suffers from hereditary Spinal Stenosis.
“You’re literally sitting right on the ground, basically an open wheel car, they’re very rigid,” Rabe said. “There’s a lot of load on your body, on your back and your neck, especially with high g-loads and things like that.”
G-loads are also known as g-force, or gravitational force.
There are ways to protect your neck and spine from future injuries. This, doesn’t include opiates, which have been overly prescribed, adding to the opioid epidemic.
“Too many people were prescribing too many opiates for chronic pain, instead of prescribing movement, and fitness and mobility, and natural supplements, natural alternatives, nutritional supplements,” Dr. Masson said.
He said creating a healthy lifestyle plays an important part in preventing and curing spinal injuries.