Not all of us drive on the track in race cars, in fact, most of us probably drive on track days in street-legal vehicles. Some of us do this as our primary means of track driving, others are instructors where we often have to ride along with students in their street cars during track days. If the majority of us don’t drive using 5 or 6-point harnesses, all of us can benefit from the safety of using a modern head and neck restraint such as a HANS device. The trouble is that the HANS device only works with 5-6 point racing belts.
Research has shown that possibly the majority of closed cockpit race car driver deaths are caused by basil skull fracture. This is caused by the severe whipping action that an unsupported head can create in a crash. A basal skull fracture is where the bottom rear part of your skull breaks off which can cause severe brain injury. Severe cases can cause the spinal cord to get sheared off internally decapitating the driver. The HAN’s device is a head and neck restraint that tethers the helmet to the shoulders, protecting the driver from head and neck whipping injuries.
Well, Simpson Safety has come up with an ingenious solution for this. They have developed the Hybrid system of head and neck restraints where the restraint is anchored to the driver’s body independent of the seat belts. Unlike the HANS device, the Simpson Hybrid will work with standard seatbelts! This is great news for the track day driver and instructors.
We wanted to get Christa a head and neck restraint but since she mostly drives Project FR-S she drives with regular seatbelts instead of a harness, a HANS device like the rest of our staff uses was not going to work. Simpson Safety came to the rescue with their Hybrid S head and neck restraint. You can see in this picture how the Hybrid S straps around the shoulders and the lower middle chest with a generous strap to spread out the load.
The Hybrid S has a carbon fiber back and shoulders yoke to help anchor the head and helmet and spread out the loads in a crash. You can see how wide and supportive the chest strap is here. The yoke also has wings to accommodate a racing-type harness just like a HANs device. However, the area for the straps is wider than that found on a HANs device to fit up to 3″ belts. A HANs device really only works well with narrow HANs-specific belts. We got Christa the Hybrid S because the chest strap is lower than most on-the-body devices so it is particularly more comfortable for women.