Posted by Matthew Mac Partlin on Monday, October 3, 2011

The Simpson Performance Products company, which is based in New Braunfels, Texas, produces a range of race safety equipment, from suits, boots and gloves to helmets and HANS devices, catering for all categories of land based motor sports. It does all its own manufacturing and testing.

In July this year the FIA homologated its latest version of HANS devices, the Simpson/Safety Solutions Hybrid Head Restraint system (FIA 8858-2010 standard). The restraint device is a little different to the usual HANS device that we commonly see at Australian event.

The typical HANS has a shoulder strut that come forward either side of the competitor's neck and rest over the clavicles and upper portion of the anterior chest wall and a third strut that rises up behind the competitor's helmet. Tethers clip to either side of the helmet, limiting forward neck flexion.

The Simpson device has none of these struts. Instead, it has a carbon fibre section that sits between the scapulae and is held in place by wide, straps that cross beneath the competitor's axillae and buckle in front of the lower chest. There are waist straps that extend off the chest straps which connect directly to the car's seat belt buckle. The wearer must be seated in the car to attach the waist straps, but opening the buckle automatically releases the restraint from its attachment to the car. There is no data presented on the loads put upon these structures and so I'm a little wary of the impact of the chest straps in a major collision and the restriction they might impose during the subsequent period while rescue and medical specialists arrive.

Tethers connect the carbon fibre segment to clips on either side of the helmet via bolted on D-rings, rather than HANS attachment points. There is a quick release system for these tethers, activated by pulling on two yellow cord, found hanging down to either side of the helmet. Simpson have a number of variations of this device, largely playing with the size and shape of the carbon fibre back-piece and the  waist straps (

There is a pdf file ( on Simpson's site demonstrating how to install the device to your helmet and, a bit worryingly, it seems that all you need is a drill, some D-rings from your local DIY shop and a tube of glue to re-stick the foam lining of your helmet back down when you've finished.

The site claims that its new device limits both forward flexion and rotation, however no data is presented. It has received FIA homologation, a fact clearly advertised on its site, and has also been accepted for use at CAMS sanctioned events (as per CAMS Speedread August 2011), so it's probably worth being aware of them as we might start to see them appear at Australian events.