IZOD IndyCar® Series and the SAFER Barrier

Indy Racing League and the SAFER Barrier

Used at tracks across the country, the Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) Barrier is widely considered one of the most significant safety improvements to automobile racing in decades. The Indy Racing League led the way in the development of the SAFER barrier from its inception and has played a major role in having it installed at tracks across the United States.

* Under development by Indy Racing League officials and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Midwest Roadside Safety Facility since 1998, the SAFER Barrier was designed to reduce the severity of race cars’ impacts with track retaining walls.

* Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League officials involved in the development of the SAFER Barrier include IMS Director of Engineering and Construction Kevin Forbes, Indy Racing League Senior Technical Director Phil Casey (retired), Indy Racing League President of Competition & Operations Brian Barnhart and former Indy Racing League Director of Medical Services Dr. Henry Bock. The team has worked closely with Dr. Dean Sicking and his staff at the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility since 1998.

* On May 1, 2002, Indy Racing League CEO Tony George announced that the SAFER Barrier would be installed in all four turns of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in time for all on-track activity for that year’s Indianapolis 500. This was the first time the SAFER Barrier would be used at a major racing event.

* Since its introduction the SAFER Barrier has earned numerous awards, including the Autosport Pioneering and Innovation Award (2004), the Louis Schwitzer Award (2002), SEMA Motorsports Engineering Award (2002), and GM Racing Pioneer Award in 2002.

* All eight oval tracks on the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule have the SAFER system installed in all four turns.


* The SAFER Barrier is constructed in 20-foot modules, with each module consisting of four rectangular steel tubes, welded together, to form a unified element. The modules are connected with four internal steel splices. Bundles of 2-inch-thick sheets of extruded, closed-cell polystyrene are placed between the concrete wall and the steel tubing modules.

* Version 2 of the SAFER system (see graphic below) was developed during 2002 and 2003 by the same Indy Racing League/University of Nebraska team that developed the original system. Version 2 incorporates improvements that further minimize damage to the system upon impact, allows one configuration to be used for both open-wheel and stock cars and allows SAFER Barriers to be installed on virtually any race-track geometry, regardless of corner radius or banking.

Safer Wall

* Since late 2003, Version 2 has become the standard and has been installed on a majority of the racetracks hosting open-wheel and stock-car racing.

More Information regarding the IZOD IndyCar® Series can be found at: www.indycar.com


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