Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Local News

March 20, 2013

Racing safety pioneer looks to curb football head injuries

NFL star using helmet to highlight upcoming seminars

BROWNSBURG — It was about three years ago when former USAC Championship car series driver and racing safety pioneer Bill Simpson attended a football game and left thinking that he could do something to help the players.

He recalls seeing players carried off the field on stretchers and asking himself “why?”

“That shouldn’t be happening,” Simpson said.

That was the beginning of Simpson-Ganassi Helmets.

Simpson said he obtained a few football helmets and began testing them. He then took the same technology used to make helmets for racecar drivers and formatted it for football helmets, drastically reducing injuries.

“I got a couple of helmets and brought them to my lab, drop tested them, and that gave me kind of a baseline on where they were at,” he said. “I was pretty sure I could do quite better.”

Traditional football helmets are made of poly carbonate. SG helmets are made of carbon fiber Kevlar.

“We’ve been doing studies to make sure what we have is what we think we have,” Simpson said. “So far we’ve had zero incidents. Nothing. Not even a headache. We sawed them up, looked at them, inspected them any way we could (after use), and decided it was time to go forward into production.”

After two years of testing that included 42 NFL players wearing the new helmets, including former Indianapolis Colt Jeff Saturday, Simpson said they’ve found unbelievable success. Not once has his helmet produced a concussion or even a post-game headache.

Simpson developed racing helmets using the carbon fiber Kevlar technology in the mid 1990s and explains the process to creating SG Helmets.

“What you’re looking for is feet per second,” he said of the drop testing. “It’s a guided free-fall wire drop from a prescribed height. The football helmets we tested were 20 feet per second. It measures the severity index when it hits a solid surface that’s flat and there’s zero movement, which is pretty harsh, and it records how many G’s (gravity) went into the brain. We tested more than a thousand helmets.

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