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#1 dretceterini

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 01:23

This may have been covered before, but is anyone aware of when seat belts were first used?

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#2 Lotus23

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 02:52

dr, in F1 I'm not certain.

The first set I ever saw in a street machine was my senior year in high school: a buddy of mine fashioned a seatbelt of sorts from a couple of heavy leather belts and installed the lashup in his car. A couple of months later, it saved him from serious injury, which made immediate believers of a lot of us. That was in 1955.

The following year, I installed 2 sets in my 1935 Ford 4dr sedan, having acquired them from JC Whitney's catalog; IIRC, they cost around $10. The front seat was, of course, the size of a sofa and had absolutely no slots in the back through which to pass the belts: it was all a solid piece of stamped steel. A buddy of mine had an acetylene cutting torch and between us we torched out four ragged holes for the belts. Naturally the upholstery in the seat caught fire and it took us an hour to finally douse the flame. Then it took the seat weeks to finally dry. But I had my belts.

And have never been without them since.

BTW, the metal-to-metal buckle so common today was not a feature of the early belts -- they had one non-metal end which passed through a cam-lock metal device on the other end.
If you cinched it down too tightly intially, it could be a real bear to loosen. Chuck Berry's paean "Maybelline" describes that frustrating situation well.

First set I ever saw in a race car was in a sprint car in 57, tho' I'm sure others can predate that.

Sorry for the rambling: I'm in a reflective mood tonight.

#3 maxie

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 03:03

Graham Hill or Jackie Stewart was the first one to use seat belts in F1? I remember a comment that had Jochen Rindt been wearing his seat belt at Monza '70, he would have survived the accident. Does it suggest that seat belt was already available in late 60s' or early 70s'?

#4 2F-001

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 07:17

I thought the issue over Rindt was that he, reportedly, didn't like wearing the lower straps (between the legs) of a full harness. I don't think there is any suggestion that he wouldn't wear a belt at all (is there?).

#5 racer69

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 07:41

I think your right 2F-001. I'm guessing they would have come in mid-to-late 60s. When Graham Hill had his big accident at Watkins Glen in 1969, he was thrown out because he didn't redo the belts up after getting out to inspect a problem, so they were in use then.

#6 david_martin

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 08:59

I recall reading an interview with Mickey Spillane (the author) where he was talking about his years stock car racing soon after the end of the Second World War. Having been a USAF fighter pilot in the War, he said he felt uncomfortable driving the car without a seatbelt and so he acquired a war surplus P51 Mustang 6 point harness and fitted it to his car, racing several seasons that way until his wife made him quit after their children were born. That would have been around 1950 or so.

#7 2F-001

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 09:01

And, of course, Graham's then-teammate (Rindt) won that race...
I know their accidents were rather different in context, but in Jochen's mind there was maybe an element of ''it couldn't happen to me''.
I suppose, though, that notion is in place, to some extent, in everyone who takes a car onto a circuit -

#8 maxie

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 09:17

And seat belts don't necessarily secure the driver at his seat, see GV 1982. :cry:

#9 Vitesse2

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 09:40

Surely seatbelts came into F1 when the lie-down driving position was adopted, around 1960-61 - before that, the received wisdom was that you were better off being thrown out (Herrmann, AVUS 1959) or jumping out (Gregory, Goodwood and elsewhere!) if you were having a big one.

.... one group of professional drivers do not believe in safety belts. These are the men who drive single-seat, open racing cars. Most, but not all of these men believe that they are better off being thrown out of their cars than restrained in them. Racing automobiles are stark-bodied, full of sharp metal projections, and the driver may well be safer thrown free, although I have seen them killed in the process, and I know one who came through a 140mph crash with only a skimmed knuckle and credited his belt.



Ken Purdy, writing in about 1960

#10 bill moffat

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 10:50

..pretty sure that it was Jackie Stewart who pioneered the use of seat belts in F1. Presumably some time after his BRM crash at Spa..altho' this accident resulted in him being trapped in the car rather than flung out.

Stewart's safety campaign (with added impetus from Louis Stanley) went against the grain during the macho 60's...but a lot of drivers owe their lives to JYS's campaigning. What a brilliant ambassador he has been for the sport.

#11 Ray Bell

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 10:54

Several times this has come up... here's one old reply...

http://www.atlasf1.c...=&postid=230015[/img]

There have been expansions on the subject... this one is probably the most complete...

http://www.atlasf1.c...&postid=1103990

Seat belts do go back a very long way, into the thirties in fact... simple lap belts whose purpose was really to keep the driver in his seat on the rough circuits in cart-sprung cars so he could best guide it to the finish line...

Here's another example...

[url="http://www.atlasf1.com/bb/showthread.php?s=&postid=268675"]http://www.atlasf1.c...=&postid=268675

...so even then the belts weren't always a big help!

#12 marion5drsn

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 18:21

Quote from dretceterini:
This may have been covered before, but is anyone aware of when seat belts were first used?

Buford [QUOTE]Originally posted by Lotus23 [...] 13-Nov-02 22:47 5

Buford 13-Nov-02 22:47 5

MemberSince: Mar 2001 quote: Originally posted by Lotus23 With the immortality of youth, I figured I'd never need it, and fortunately never did: lots of spins, but no rolls nor flips! In fact, I've never been on my head on 4 wheels, though bikes are a whole 'nother story! He he, yeah. Who needs them? We are never going to turn over, right? Well I never needed one on a road course either. But when I got to Sprint Cars, if you don't flip now and then, you are not going fast enough. I am damn happy for the full roll cage and fire suit that protected me from the fireball I created. But in those days, they did not have seat belts in the F1 cars so they wanted to get thrown out. The American cars did use seat belts, so their flimsy bars in the early years were a travesty.



I entered just the words Safety Belts and came up with 57 different headings. All the way from the Red Baron to this one. One could read for a week on this one subject. I put them on my car in about 1955-57. The thing I noticed about them was you didn't slide around in the seat and that's on an old passenger car.

EDIT APRIL 02-2003 # 1
Seat-belts save lives.
Safety belts on seats were first used in aircraft as early as 1910. And by the 1940s tests demonstrated that similar belts could substantially reduce injuries in car accidents. Even so, it wasn't until the 1970s that many countries passed legislation making it compulsory for motorists to use car seat-belts.
1959 - World's first Three-Point Seat Belt
In 1959, Volvo became the first carmaker in the world to fit three-point seat belts in a mass-produced model - and the company's cars have been in the front rank of safety ever since. Nils Bohlin, the belt's inventor, had worked on safety development for the Royal Swedish Air Force and was recruited by Volvo in the mid-1960s to head the company's work in the field. In collaboration with leading researchers, he successfully demonstrated that seat belts could be as effective in cars as in aircraft. It is impossible today to estimate how many million human lives have been saved by his brainchild.
# 2 http://www.jersey.ne...ne/hist5_ba.htm
During the 1970's and 1980's an effort was being made to reduce the number of fire fighter deaths in the United States. A large number of deaths were the result of falls from the moving fire trucks and crashes involving fire trucks. In fact 1/3 of the fire fighter deaths in 1998 were still the results of fire truck accidents or falls even with all the safety improvements in seat belts and cab design.

The first move to reduce this death rate was to get the fireman off the hose bed and off the tail board and move them into the jump seats. It was found that fire fighters were still falling off the trucks trying to get into the seats while the trucks were moving. Also during accidents fire fighters were being thrown out the opening on the jump seats. Safety gates were a common solution to this problem. In fact both our Pierce pumper had these gates installed in the mid 1980's.

But the only real solution to prevent fire fighter deaths and injury in fire truck crashes was to have them in seat belts inside an enclosed cab for roll over protection.


M.L. Anderson

#13 jgm

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 18:56

In f1 seatbelts started to be used in 1967-68. Jackie Stewart took the initiative and the others gradually followed.

#14 Ray Bell

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 21:43

Originally posted by jgm
In f1 seatbelts started to be used in 1967-68. Jackie Stewart took the initiative and the others gradually followed.


Check two posts before yours (post number 11)... you'll get some accuracy there, but you'll need to click on the links.

#15 dretceterini

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Posted 14 January 2003 - 00:40

My thinking is that a few individuals used seat belts as far back as the 30s. I was just wondering as to the first documented case; driver and car...

#16 marion5drsn

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Posted 14 January 2003 - 16:27

Quote from dretceterini:

My thinking is that a few individuals used seat belts as far back as the 30s. I was just wondering as to the first documented case: driver and car.

Any answer you get is directly in proportion to how precisely and why you have phrased the question!
The seat belts you refer to were first used in aircraft to any great extent. It is very difficult to keep your seat in an aircraft, which is upside down and sideways, or any other maneuver, try the slow roll maneuver. Shoulder harness was first used in World War One most likely by the Germans, as were parachutes. Remember this is in aircraft and their maneuvers. Adventurers that parachuted out of balloons used parachutes much earlier.

As to finding out who used seat belt in cars and the driver who did this I believe you are not going to find a very definitive answer, at least not one that is any where near close to being one that is agreed upon. Yours M.L. Anderson

#17 Dracula

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Posted 18 January 2003 - 11:21

First time seat belts was used by Jackie Stewart at Germany GP 1967. This information I read in Russian book "Formula-1. Races and Racing cars" by Artem Atojan.

#18 Chris Skepis

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Posted 18 January 2003 - 11:33

I think seat belts were used for the first time by JYS at Zandvoort '68.The second driver to use it was Amon at Monza the same year ( and his life was saved because he was wearing it when he turned over on the second lap)

#19 Eric McLoughlin

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Posted 18 January 2003 - 13:00

Just a technicality I know but the USAF (United States Air Force) did not exist in World War 2. What did exist was (intially) the USAAC (United States Army Air Corps) and the reorganised, in 1941 I think, as the USAAF (United States Army Air Forces). The independent USAF came into being in 1947.

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#20 Ray Bell

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Posted 18 January 2003 - 22:00

Originally posted by Chris Skepis
I think seat belts were used for the first time by JYS at Zandvoort '68.The second driver to use it was Amon at Monza the same year ( and his life was saved because he was wearing it when he turned over on the second lap)


What date was Zandvoort that year?

I'm not certain, but fairly sure, that nobody in F1 used them until very shortly after Niel Allen's crash. They certainly were universally adopted because of that crash (and his survival of it, of course).

#21 cabianca

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Posted 19 January 2003 - 06:10

I'm not going to get into dates, but I'm pretty sure seat belts were used long before the mid-60s. Certainly they were in America, when the SCCA declared them manditory in 1958. Admittedly Brit and Euro drivers long held that being thrown out of a car in trouble was preferable, but even some of them came to their senses before the dates quoted above. Another bellweather is the reportage on how drivers handled the Le Mans start. I belive some buckled up after proceeding, again this was before the late 60s.

#22 scheivlak

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Posted 19 January 2003 - 09:37

Originally posted by Ray Bell


What date was Zandvoort that year?


June 23, it was wet and cold.....

#23 Ray Bell

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Posted 19 January 2003 - 11:50

Originally posted by cabianca
I'm not going to get into dates, but I'm pretty sure seat belts were used long before the mid-60s. Certainly they were in America, when the SCCA declared them manditory in 1958. Admittedly Brit and Euro drivers long held that being thrown out of a car in trouble was preferable, but even some of them came to their senses before the dates quoted above. Another bellweather is the reportage on how drivers handled the Le Mans start. I belive some buckled up after proceeding, again this was before the late 60s.


Certainly it was mandated in the USA... but the Europeans generally ignored this, Moss even says so in his book, that he sat on them.

It's generally agreed that plenty of people used simple lap belts way back, but the six-point harness of modern times, and the proposition that being firmly held in place would give a driver a better prospect of survival, was not generally accepted until Niel Allen's crash.

I'm not sure if that was June or July, but it was 1968.

#24 fines

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Posted 19 January 2003 - 11:58

I recall reading that Moss sat on seat belts when he tested the Scarab F1 - that was 1960. Even if it probably were only lap belts, but I'm sure Daigh and Reventlow would've buckled up.

#25 Catalina Park

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Posted 20 January 2003 - 07:16

From the Bill Tuckey & Thomas Floyd book "From Redex to Repco"
In chapter about the 1958 Mobil Trial (a 16,250km round Australia rally)
There was a heavy emphasis on safety, with all crews required to wear seat belts (which most of them were doing by the anyway)

The Book Motor Racing in Safety by Michael Henderson from 1968 has a chapter talking about safety equipment and mentions that more drivers in closed cars were wearing belts than in open cars.
It also says that: The F.I.A. specifies in its regulations for Formula racing cars that there must be 'Attachment points for safety belt, the use of such a belt is optional'

It also has a picture of Jackie Stewart in his 1967 BRM wearing a 4 point harness.

#26 David M. Kane

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Posted 20 January 2003 - 13:51

Maxie:

Gilles seat belts did NOT break. In fact the entire seat came out still
attached to his back, belts and all! When I saw the car at the next GP at Detroit I was stunned to see these huge retaining bolts attaching the seat to the chassis to assure it wouldn't happen again.

#27 marion5drsn

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Posted 20 January 2003 - 16:42

Quote from above: This may have been covered before, but is anyone aware of when seat belts were first used?

From the book FIGHTING COCKPITS 1914-2000 BY L.F.E. Coombs
PAGE 34.

Until 1917 pilots were usually kept in their seat during violent maneuvers by a lap strap. Sutton of the R.F.C. devised a four-strap harness with a simple quick-release fastening. The Sutton harness became the standard for R.F.C., R.N.A.S. and R.A.F. pilots. A similar four-strap harness was used in some French aircraft. Other crewmembers either had a lap strap or a "monkey chain" to prevent them from falling out Moore points out that at the end of WW-1 the admirable Sutton harness was forgotten by the R.A.F. and only revived ten years later.
The reason for this backward thinking safety step lay possibly with the original object of the harness, which was to keep a pilot firmly in his seat during a dogfight.
The original intention was not with protecting the pilot, in the event of a crash. There was disagreement among British pilots about keeping the strap secured or undone when making a forced landing. Some were concerned that in the event of a crash a waist strap or harness might prevent them escaping quickly from the wreck.

I just wonder if someone familiar with D.I.N. standards would have an idea when the Germans put Safety Harness in their aircraft in WW-1? If it was good enough for the Red Baron then it ought to be good for others?

Yours M.L. Anderson

#28 Dracula

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Posted 26 January 2003 - 08:52

As I wrote here first seat belts in F1 WC was used by Jackie Stewart at German GP 1967. Next year FIA recommended using it, but only in 1972 FIA introduced without fail employment of six point seat belts.
And some more interesting information about seat belts. After terrible crash of Martin Donelly in Jeres-90, when he out from his car, because seat belts was broken FIA introduced special crash test for seat belts. Now thickness of seat belts is 75 mm (before 1995 season it was 50 mm). They fix positions of driver’s legs (two belts) and body (two belts) and another two belts clasp shoulders.

#29 Tweddell

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Posted 26 January 2003 - 10:39

seat belts were a novum in 1967 in long distance sport car races .till then it was rather uncommen to use them , especially when it was LeMans-start . I remember John Surtees in the Lola Aston Martin at the 1000km at the Ring, when he left the grid very late, because John first fixed his belts, then started the race in the mid field, sourrounded by small gt-cars, in the meantime all competitors in the big prototype class were far away. One year later, the last ever Lemans Start-procedure seen at the Ring 1968 ickx went across the track to his car rather slowly, demonstrating against this type of race-start, as it was not going together with new ideas of safety.
Rindt had only a 4-point harness.

#30 Doug Nye

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Posted 02 April 2003 - 16:54

Originally posted by Dracula
First time seat belts was used by Jackie Stewart at Germany GP 1967. This information I read in Russian book "Formula-1. Races and Racing cars" by Artem Atojan.


Posted Image

Jackie Stewart belted into the Rover-BRM 'Mark IIb' Coupe at Le Mans '65

Posted Image

Jackie Stewart belted into the H16-cylinder BRM at Nurburgring, German GP '67 - "...in order to stay anchored firmly within the car over the humps and bumps".

Funny what you come across while looking for other things, innit? We also have movie shot at Brooklands pre-war showing 'B. Bira' trundling into the paddock in his cousin Chula's Maserati 8CM and releasing a loop of rope around his waist before climbing from the cockpit. I doubt it had been merely holding his trousers up. If it was, it hadn't been necessary 'cos they plainly stayed up without it.

DCN

#31 Ray Bell

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Posted 02 April 2003 - 21:32

Originally posted by Doug Nye
Posted Image

Jackie Stewart belted into the Rover-BRM 'Mark IIb' Coupe at Le Mans '65

Posted Image

Jackie Stewart belted into the H16-cylinder BRM at Nurburgring, German GP '67 - "...in order to stay anchored firmly within the car over the humps and bumps".


Methinks there might have been more to it than that...

The coupe, for instance, being a closed car, probably had a belt wearing requirment anyway. As for the Nurburgring pic, I saw this same one in Catalina Park's copy of Michael Henderson's book, Motor Racing in Safety - The Human Factors just the other day (is that the right title?).

As I have frequently posted, it was Henderson who really got serious with the use of belts in open wheelers, and he even points out in his caption to this photo that there are no crutch straps.

#32 Doug Nye

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Posted 02 April 2003 - 21:37

Ray - I really do doubt that there was any seatbelt requirement for the Coupe in 1965, beyond driver preference. Michael Henderson's safety recommendations were first broached in 'Motor Racing' magazine, of which I was the associate editor. Our ex-Motor Racing colleagues Patrick Stephens and Darryl Reach then left to found PSL Publications, and one of their first books - if not actually their very first book, I can't remember - was Doc Henderson's 'Motor Racing in Safety'. The above JYS H16 pic would have been used in the book for two reasons, one being that which you cite, the other the fact that here was some kind of modern mainstream Formula 1 first.

DCN

#33 cheesy poofs

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Posted 02 April 2003 - 21:58

Originally posted by David M. Kane

Gilles seat belts did NOT break. In fact the entire seat came out still
attached to his back, belts and all! When I saw the car at the next GP at Detroit I was stunned to see these huge retaining bolts attaching the seat to the chassis to assure it wouldn't happen again.



In fact, all 6 retaining bolts ripped off the chassis but, Pironi would be more lucky at Hockenheim because, in his case, 2 were left attached to the chassis. If not, he most likely would have suffered the same fate as Gilles.

#34 Ray Bell

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Posted 02 April 2003 - 22:30

Originally posted by Doug Nye
Ray - I really do doubt that there was any seatbelt requirement for the Coupe in 1965, beyond driver preference.....


You may well be right here, Doug.

In Australia, touring cars were required to have harnesses and they were required to be worn prior to this time. I recall, too, that the 250LM arrived here in early 1965 with a 3-point belt installed, but it was possibly raced without this being used.

#35 Patrice L'Rodent

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Posted 30 April 2003 - 13:03

Quote Lotus23
"If you cinched it down too tightly intially, it could be a real bear to loosen. Chuck Berry's paean "Maybelline" describes that frustrating situation well"

Oh dear, you got the wrong song ;) "Maybelline" was a story about detonation affecting the performance of a hot rodded flathead Ford V8 when it got hot. The rain watyer cooled it and "The Cadillac looked like it's standin' still when caught Maybelline at the top of the hill"
Neat song, but the one you are referring to was "No particular place to go" (where they parked way out on the Kokomo"......and "all the way home she pulled and tugged, but the safety belt, it wouldn't budge")

That stuff has to be proof positive of a misspent youth ;)

#36 uechtel

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Posted 30 April 2003 - 14:57

From my memory: Isn´t it true, that Ray Harroun (or somebody else?) strapped himself to the driver´s seat in Indianapolis as early as 1911 or 1913? I think I have read something like that in Cimarosti´s book. Have to look that up when I come home tonight.

#37 Doug Nye

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Posted 30 April 2003 - 15:03

I think that is true - we also have movie of Prince 'Bira' driving his cousin Chula's Maserati 8CM into the Brooklands paddock in the late 1930s, and unfastening a loop of rope - which he had around his lap to keep him in the seat over Brooklands' notorious bumps - before he could jump out...

DCN

#38 doc540

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Posted 30 April 2003 - 15:36

After adopting lap belts, the next step for early, American open wheel drivers was known as a "Sam Brown" belt, a single belt stretching diagonally from one hip then over one shoulder. I assume is was the precursor to the three point harness. The term "Sam Brown belt" still refers to the law enforcement equipment worn today: a leather belt diagonally from front to back over one shoulder.

Early open wheel drivers and mechanics thought it safer to be thrown from a flipping car. As speeds advanced and injuries and fatalities increased the single lap belt was gradually adopted with the Sam Brown shoulder belt coming next and followed by multi-point racing harnesses.

#39 Mike Argetsinger

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Posted 30 April 2003 - 16:34

As Ray Bell has said there have been at least two other threads on this. The following two paragraphs are what I posted previously and reflect that seat belts were not only in use - but were required in the regulations - as early as 1948 at Watkins Glen.


Seat belts were required at the first (and subsequent) post war road race in America - Watkins Glen 1948. They were specifically required in the Rules and Regulations for that race and no car was approved for competition that didn't have them fitted. According to Philippe Defechereux in his book "Watkins Glen 1948-1952" this was a "world first." Those regulations were written not by the SCCA but by my father (Cameron Argetsinger) with considerable assistance from Bill Milliken. To quote from Defechereux:

"The SCCA having not expected to stage a road race so quickly, had no formal written rules for racing available. Cameron and Jean Argetsinger enlisted the help of Bill Milliken on this urgent subject. They drove to Buffalo several times to develop those rules and make sure they would be included in the entry blank for all would-be participants."




A couple of interesting things here - is Defechereux correct that this was a "world first" (meaning, I believe, that seat belts were mandated)?

It is also interesting that Cabianca says in an earlier post that the SCCA did not mandate belts until 1958 - 10 years after they were mandated at Watkins Glen - which was, of course, the first ever SCCA race. This may very well be so - this would indicate that each race made its own rules with respect to seat belts (and other isues) and that the sanctioning body didn't get around to making it a blanket rule until much later.

A final note relates to an earlier post on this thread regarding Stewart fitting belts in order to be firmly anchored in the car. This was precisely why my father mandated seat belts at Watkins Glen in 1948. He believed the safety issue here to be precisely that - maintaining a stable position in the car under cornering loads, etc. The issue of being thrown clear of the car was secondary to that consideration in his thinking.

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#40 Doug Nye

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Posted 30 April 2003 - 17:15

I forgot - the Cunningham 'Le Monstre' sports car of 1950 Le Mans fame is fitted with a lap belt adopted apparently from a P38 aircraft upon John Fitch's recommendation...or was it Arnhem 'Bridge too Far' operation assault glider pilot Phil Walters? I forget.

DCN

#41 Joe Fan

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Posted 01 May 2003 - 07:50

I wonder about the SCCA regs on seat belts. Cars may have been required to be fitted with them but I wonder how many drivers actually wore them during the race. Were there penalties for not wearing them? I know that Masten Gregory did not like seatbelts and he usually only wore them to keep him from sliding around in the seat. He was in the camp believing that it was better to be thrown from the car (or an advanced camp that thought it was better to jump :D ).

Anyway, after the numerous basillar skull fractures in the sport over the years, you have to wonder if this thinking wasn't right after all especially with frequency of cars becoming fire balls upon impact. However, the HANS device and numerous other changes have made the sport much safer.

#42 Ray Bell

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Posted 01 May 2003 - 11:10

I gather it was intended that drivers wear the belts, Joe...

Stirling Moss made quite an issue about sitting on them when he raced in America, I think that was in All But My Life. That couldn't have been the case if the officials only wanted the belts installed.

#43 Mozart

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Posted 01 May 2003 - 14:01

1968 was my first year in F1. At that time, about half the drivers wore belts.

Although quite badly injured, if I hadn't been wearing one when the right front wishbone broke, at Spa, I would note be wrting this note!

Brian Redman

#44 doc540

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Posted 01 May 2003 - 14:05

Thank you, Brian, for what you have brought to the sport of auto racing. As a fan, I admire your skill, bravery, and sense of humor. (not necessarily in that order)

If I may, here's a link to Brian's homepage:

Intercontinental Events, Inc

#45 doc540

doc540
  • Member

  • 259 posts
  • Joined: April 03

Posted 05 May 2003 - 00:37

A comment on seat belt origins from www.trackforum.com

"Lap belts were pretty rare before WWII but a few homemade types were tried. The most well known case was when Wilbur Shaw was talked into trying a lap belt in the 1930s and crashed the first time he wore it. He broke some ribs and blamed the seat belt for not leaving him free to brace himself partially under the steering wheel. He never raced with one again. Even after the war many drivers would not wear a lap belt. Rex Mays was killed in 1949 largely because he refused to wear his seat belt. Maybe someone on Trackforum knows for sure but lap belts must have become mandatory sometime in the early to mid 1950s for Indianapolis cars although most drivers were wearing them by then even if they weren't required to. Lap belts in the 1950s tended to be the military surplus types that pilots used. Shoulder harnesses are another story. For some reason the shoulder harness didn't catch on for quite awhile. There were a few drivers who wore them in the late 1950s but not very many. The first car that really stands out in my memory for using a full lap belt and shoulder harness was the George Salih Belond car. When Jim Bryan won in 1958 in that car I believe he was also driving the first car at Indianapolis to use a roll bar. The roll bar became mandatory the next year. Shoulder harnesses must have become mandatory sometime in the 1960s but there were still several drivers wearing Sam Browne belts instead of shoulder harnesses on both dirt and pavement races in the early 1960s. Contrary to popular belief the Sam Browne type belt gave no protection to a driver in a front impact crash. All it did was help counter the centrifugal forces in the turns. Formula One was even much later in accepting seat belts than Indianapolis was. The belief was that they wanted to be thrown clear of an accident. I don't think that lap belts and shoulder harnesses became mandatory in Europe until the very late 1960s (69 maybe). Check out all of those classic photos of Jim Clark in his Lotus sliding through a turn. What stands out today is that he wasn't wearing either a lap belt or a shoulder harness. None of the European racers did. Clark actually got caught at least once in practice at Indianapolis sitting on his belts rather than having them buckled. He just wasn't used to using seat belts."