Bill Simpson: A Life Dedicated to Racing and Racing Safety

More than after, Simpson set himself on fire to show the potency of his firesuits. Watch Indianapolis 500 Live Stream, Can it really have been January 1993 when I walked into the company just outside Los Angeles to buy my very first –and, sad to say, apparently my final –tailored suit?

I had been sporting off-the-rack stuff, and that I was tired of itThere was a little room left on the American Express card, and I planned to max out it.  I wanted the best, and I got it.  The man using the tape measure composed down everything carefully. 

Colour: Black.  Material: Nomex.  Trim: Three yellow rings around the upper arms.

“We all sew your name on it for free,” the guy said, just one more ceremony of Simpson Racing Products, Watch Indianapolis 500 Live Stream, based on safety guru Bill Simpson, who died Monday at age 79, following a stroke.

I told the salesman that I had just as soon not have my name on the suit.  He was perplexed.  “Everybody wants their name on the lawsuit!  It can even be a nickname.  Like’Bubba.’   I had been living in Texas at the time and supposed that people in California guessed half of Texas men must be known Bubba, when in reality, it is less than a third.

From the late 60s, Bill Simpson took nomex substance used by NASA and forced racing lawsuits out of it.  Watch Indianapolis 500 Live Stream. He would pour gasoline over himself and also be lit on fire to prove how secure the suits were.

Among the greatest influences in racing security passed away today at the age of 79.  RIP Bill

I fell to tell him that the true reason I didn’t need my name on the suit: Then as now, I am such a crappy race driver that I dissuade any way of expedited identification.  Watch Indianapolis 500 Live Stream, Pursuant to that, no race car I have owned has had my name on it. 

Correctly figuring I could use any benefit available, I moved to Simpson for my firesuit, back when they actually called them”firesuits.”  Go to the Simpson Racing Products website now, and they’re called”racing matches .”  To Bill Simpson, though–a guy who never spent much time worrying about political correctness, or calling a lawsuit something which would not create a racer’s spouse see it hanging in the cupboard and think of”fire”–it was a firesuit.

More than once, Simpson put himself on fire to show the potency of his firesuits.  He needed to: Until NASA astronaut Pete Conrad, Watch Indianapolis 500 Live Stream, an avid amateur racer, introduced Simpson to Nomex, in 1967 that a then-new fire-resistant material invented by DuPont scientist Wilfred Sweeny, nobody had found a really effective, affordable substance that would work. 

Simpson took the ball and ran with it and in his first year of producing Simpson firesuits, 30 of the 33 starters in the Indianapolis 500 were sporting them.


Simpson, as multiple obituaries have already noted, was a California native, growing up alongside, as well as a part of, hot-rodding.

At 18, he broke both arms when his dragster declined to stop in the end of the drag strip.  Many racers had toyed with the notion of using a parachute to prevent their dragsters, but Simpson was the first to make it work, Watch Indianapolis 500 Live Stream, when he used a rented sewing machine to stitch together a nylon chute that he and his friend and fellow drag racer Mike Sorokin submitted to a scientific evaluation –they tied it to the tow hitch of a Chevrolet station wagon, drove it into 100 miles, and Simpson tossed the chute out the trunk.  And boydid it work! 

The too-big chute sent the Chevy airborne, falling to ground in a tree nursery.  The police sent Sorokin and Simpson to jail, where Simpson confessed he needed a bit more technology to do.  After he made it right, and”Big Daddy” Don Garlits began using his chutes, Simpson was on his way.

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Sorokin, incidentally, went on to become the driver for the mythical Surfers Top Fuel racing team, together with Bob Skinner and Tom Jobe, that was the team’s tuner along with a self-taught nitromethane expert, who guessed that if the other men were operating well on fuel which has been 60 percent nitro, how fast could they proceed with gas which has been, say, 98 percent nitro?  They moved fairly fast.  Or burst.  They exploded a lot.

NOBODY was a game changer in automobile racing compared to Bill Simpson.  He had been innovator, leader, a MAVERICK in every sense of this word.

Gonna miss the telephone calls & should you knew Bill… you understand this grin meant he was headed to his ship ✌️

Following the Surfers hung up it, Sorokin kept racing, and at age 28, he had been killed in Tony Waters’ dragster once the clutch exploded.  This was occurring often–racers discovered that when you let the clutch slip a bit, the car actually hooked up faster and moved faster, Watch Indianapolis 500 Live Stream, so they had been modifying them on their own, and if the clutch neglected it might just cut a car in half.  Simpson took his friend’s death challenging, but a lot of racers were dying afterward, their deaths were normally a shock but rarely a surprise.  Sorokin was murdered on Dec. 30, 1967–the 23rd drag racer to expire that year.

Simpson continued to race, and in 1974, made it into the pinnacle: He qualified for the Indianapolis 500 and finished 13th.  Several years later he had been practicing Indy and recognized that his head was on company –calls for return, substances he had to buy–rather than on his driving, and he understood it was time to cease.

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Stop racing, not stop innovating.  He had a hand in bringing several 200 creations into the safety market, and likely just as many that did not make it, like his”bionic glove” that would stop a racer’s hands from tiring.  He even opened a restaurant–Flat-Tops at Indianapolis.

Indy car racer Bill Simpson qualified for the 1974 Indianapolis 500.

In a meeting given when he was 63, the female writer noted that he was a”ruggedly handsome man.”  Oh, Bill Simpson could be magical, and he may benot magical.  Watch Indianapolis 500 Live Stream, He is acerbic, impatient, and he didn’t suffer fools.  But once you were on Simpson’s personal”approved” list, he would likely be your friend for life.  He could be his own worst enemy.  In that exact same interview given if he was 63, he admits to being”creative, not smart.”  Geniuses often do not make the top businessmen.

Undeniably, Simpson’s worst moment came at the 2001 Daytona 500, when his friend Dale Earnhardt was killed when he struck the wall in turn 4.Indianapolis 500 Live Online.  Like so many drivers Before the popularity of the Head And Neck Support, or HANS, device, Earnhardt died from a basilar skull fracture, as did NASCAR drivers Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin Jr. and Tony Roper in 2000.

But in NASCAR’s own analysis of how the sport’s biggest star was murdered, substantial blame was placed on the Simpson seat straps Earnhardt was wearing.  “If his restraint strategy –his belts–had held, he would have had a much greater chance of survival,” said Dr. Steve Bohannon, NASCAR’s medical practitioner.

Yes, the left-side lap belt broke, Simpson consented, but stated it was improperly installed to match the manner Earnhardt prefer to sit in the car — non.  He argued his case, and there was evidence to support his own claim, but few listened.  He got death threats.  Bill Simpson killed Dale Earnhardt!  The reputation he had worked for a long time to construct crumbled in 1 week. Watch Indianapolis 500 Live Stream Free.

“The Simpson Company wasn’t responsible in any way, shape or form for this crash,” Simpson said in a statement.  “Having analyzed and produced seat belts for the motorsports industry for more than 43 years, we have never seen that a seat belt come apart in the manner that happened.  Our seat belts, when correctly installed, won’t fail.”

NASCAR, Simpson believed, was throwing him under the bus.  Earnhardt fans were anxious to hear any explanation which didn’t incorporate the possibility that Earnhardt, who wore an open-face helmet and had no interest in talking to Jim Downing, the co-inventor of the HANS, much less wear, might have made a mistake.  Several mistakes. Watch Indianapolis 500 Live Stream Free.

Simpson had sold a majority interest in his firm to investors in 1999, along with the corporate forms now running Simpson Performance Products wanted this bad publicity to go away–today.  Watch Indianapolis 500 Live Stream. A year after the crash, Simpson filed an $8.5 million defamation lawsuit against NASCAR:”They picked on the incorrect man this time,” he said.  Prior to the filing, Simpson Performance Products delivered out a media release saying they wouldn’t be party to some rumored suit.  Bill Simpson was out there, by himself.

But he wasn’t backing down.  “All NASCAR had to do was apologize to me, but no, they had been damn arrogant.  Consequently, if that is the way they would like to be, then fine. Watch Indianapolis 500 Live Stream Free.  There’ll be a lot of shit coming from this, things they never wanted to discuss,” Simpson told Autoweek before the suit was filed.

As for Simpson Performance Products,”They are at the appeasement business right now, but that is their problem.  What NASCAR did was incorrect, and I’m not going to accept it.  Watch Indianapolis 500 Live Stream, They can mess with a lot of people, but they are not going to mess with Bill Simpson.  I will stand up to them.  I’ll see them in court”

Bill Simpson believed he was thrown beneath the NASCAR bus in the aftermath of Earnhardt’s death.

He did.  The suit was settled out of court in July 2003.   “Simpson and NASCAR are happy to announce that they agree it is in the best interest of racing they direct their time, energy and resources away from litigation and to improving safety for professional racing drivers,” said a statement accepted by both sides.  Indianapolis 500 Live Stream Free. Not surprising: Few high profile lawsuits involving NASCAR seem to go through the complete trial process, and the last thing the entire body wanted was to broadcast this specific batch of laundry.

Simpson sold the remainder of his business, and, after a one-year non-compete agreement was satisfied, started Impact Racing, where he developed and sold security equipment and spent lot of time describing why Bill Simpson was actively advertising against a firm he founded, that still bore his name.  He sold Impact in 2010, stating that he was”getting old” and it was time to”pass the torch.”

However, it had been a turbulent few decades for Simpson’s new firm.  In 2009, a former effect employee told the manufacturers of the HANS device that Impact was using bogus anchors on some helmets–anchors are at which the HANS attaches to the helmet.  HANS inspected 87 Impact helmets being used at the NASCAR races at Bristol Motor Speedway, also discovered that 82 had the questionable anchors. 

The anchors were stamped with trademarks for HANS, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) and the SFI Foundation, but HANS explained that in-house tests showed the anchors did not match the load requirements given by the FIA.  Indianapolis 500 Live Stream Free, A subsequent lawsuit claimed that Effect was buying attachment clips from China for $8.90 a set, in comparison to $41.25 for its true HANS clips.

Bill Simpson is regarded as the grandfather of the use of parachutes in drag racing.

The Chinese clips have been inscribed with an SFI certificate.  The nonprofit SFI Foundation, which issues and administers security standards for racing gear, stated that Impact never participated in that app.

On the heels of this came the revelation that Impact had sewn fake SFI Foundation certification stains on a few of its own suits and used bogus SFI labels on different goods.  Impact and the SFI engaged in a massive Battle of Press Releases, together with Impact claiming that”SFI’s activities have caused racers to unnecessarily question their safety” in utilizing Impact equipment. 

The SFI countered using a scathing release saying that, one of additional revelations,”Scientific testing just conducted on 2008 Impact 3.2A/5 matches has decided that the thread melts in a fire.”  Indianapolis 500 Live Stream Free , The thread was not created from Nomex, as SFI was led to believe, but”some type of unidentified noncompliant thread that melts during heat testing.  This thread failure is contrary to the SFI specifications that Impact consented to follow”  It went downhill from there.

Nobody asserts that Bill Simpson was the consummate innovator, working fast and hard to receive his innovations on the market.  That occasionally bit him, like in 1984, when Simpson Sports manufactured the first carbon-fiber motorcycle helmets.  Early models failed testing; Simpson explained that the difficulty was with his resin provider.  He presumed the resin would cure correctly in 48 hours, but discovered after promoting 300 of the helmets that it took eight weeks.

Still, no wonder: Simpson has saved countless lives.  He was a bulldog in regards to safety, took each fatality personally, saw every accident as a more problem to solve.  He had been named to the Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2003, and nobody since deserved the honour more.

And for the only tailor-made suit I will ever possess: Nevertheless fits, nevertheless ideal, Watch Indianapolis 500 Live Stream. still Bill Simpson at his best. 


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