September 19, 2023
DRIVER SAFETY IS ALWAYS OUR FIRST PRIORITY, WHICH MEANS UNDERSTANDING RISK IS CRITICAL
Developing young race car drivers involves an incredible amount of responsibility. Loss of control can happen in the blink of an eye, however the consequences of an accident can impact a young driver's life forever,
So while racing is inherently dangerous, their seemingly will always be some new crop of parents who are motivated to give their sons and daughters a chance to become the next Formula One or IndyCar star driver. So as one of the leaders in young driver development, one of our most important skills is understanding and managing the risks associated with race car driving.
For reference, below is a video of an F3 testing accident that we had at Roebling Road Raceway near Savannah Georgia in December 2021. The driver made a small mistake on corner entry. In the video, you can watch how the tires cushioned the energy of the race car's inertia, and the berm allowed the race car to go slightly upwards but not over the berm.
The driver sustained no injuries; and proudly we can state that in 20+ years of developing young race car drivers that no one has ever hurt themselves while under our watch.
This positive statistic isn't luck, rather a long history of making good decisions about the various safety criteria that keep race car drivers safe.
First consideration is track safety, where key considerations include the quality of the run-off areas as well as the construction of the track barriers. In this instance, Roebling Road Raceway has a wall of loose tires in front of an earth berm.
If you're curious what happened to cause this 100+ mph impact, check the above screenshot photo to see how the corner entry kerb suddenly ends. The 17 year old driver was excellent, and using 100% of the track surface in order to make the fastest possible lap time.
Problem was that at 100 mph he didn't realize the kerb ended. and the available grip of the laden outside tire went to ZERO as soon as it left the track surface and onto the dewy grass. So as noted, this "blink of an eye" small mistake quickly led to a relatively massive accident.
But this is why we have often chosen to do our winter driver training at Roebling Road Raceway, because when accidents happen the consequences have always been minimal with our race cars and drivers.
Second safety consideration relates to the specification race cars that we use for competition and young driver training. Above photo is notable since it's the same Ligier F3 race car that was in the big Savannah testing accident, which was repaired and won a race at Homestead-Miami Speedway four weeks later.
In recent years our primary race cars used for driver development have been the Ligier F4 specification. The carbon monocoque construction together with custom driver seat fittings are two causal factors to our perfect safety record. Ligier F4 car is also lightweight, which allows for rapid deceleration whenever drivers lose control.
Third safety consideration relates to identifying young prospects who are competent to become race car drivers in a safe environment. We typically start new drivers at private track that is in the middle of a big grass field, where drivers are alone on track. That's the highest safety profile since there is nothing to hit, including that there are no other cars on track with new drivers. You can read about our first experience program at this link -- F4 RACING CAMP
With 20+ years experience developing more than 200 young drivers, pretty quickly we can determine the kids who are safe in a race car. Of course mistakes will happen since it's incredibly difficult to drive race cars fast, but it quickly becomes clear the kids who are reckless versus the kids who are naturally talented and deserving of their chance.
For more information about JENSEN driver development programs and the path to safely becoming a professional race car driver, contact Eric Jensen via email at email@example.com