‘Race With Restraint’ strives to improve safety for grassroots racers


Among the biggest risks of grassroots racing is oftentimes the lack of adequate safety equipment, particularly head-and-neck restraint devices and upgraded helmets.

One of the main reasons drivers forego such equipment is the cost factor to purchase it. And because most small, independent grassroots tracks mandate only minimal safety equipment standards, drivers typically put any available money into their race vehicle instead of themselves.

That tendency may start to see a change for the better as the Miami-based Motorsport Safety Foundation begins a new national initiative this weekend known as “Race With Restraint.”

Founded in 2014, the non-profit MSF is committed to improving safety conditions at racetracks everywhere. Those improvements include head-and-neck restraints and helmets, stronger and safer retaining walls and advocating for more motorsport safety education and awareness.

Race With Restraint offers adjustable HANS devices, Bell Racing GP.2 Carbon helmets and helmet anchors for drivers who already have HANS-compliant devices at participating racetracks. Units are rented for a small fee and then returned at the end of that day’s on-track activities.

“This program hopes to spark awareness, give everyone a chance to utilize an extremely beneficial safety device and serve as a low-cost demo platform for the restraints,” said Motorsport Safety Foundation founder and president Henrique Cisneros.

Race With Restraint kicks off at this weekend’s 24 Hours of LeMons “Doing Time in Joliet” at Autobahn Country Club in suburban Chicago. The primary element of RWR is the rental of Frontal Head Restraints (FHR) to drivers that will take part in the endurance event.

“We greatly appreciate the consideration shown to us by Mike Gritter and the Autobahn Country Club as the first track to support the program,” said MSF chief operating officer and former IMSA vice president Scot Elkins. “We’d also like to acknowledge every single MSF member who donated to Race with Restraint. With their help, we can proudly say that we are now fully funded for 20 rental kiosks.”

As MSF touts in its promotional brochure, “Never race without a restraint. Even small accidents can become fatal without it.”

The 24 Hours of LeMons is a nationwide series of endurance races for cars that cost up to $500, including purchase and preparation – which is less than the price of most FHR’s. The endurance race begins at 11 am ET on Saturday and concludes at 11 am ET on Sunday.

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