Flame-Resistant Nomex® Racing Suits Save Lives
Racing professionals like to wear racing suits and gear made of Nomex® because it's lightweight, flexible, breathable, and comfortable. Most importantly, it's flame-resistant. And that performance benefit, more than any other, has helped saved lives.
"I've been racing for a lot of years and I've been wearing a Nomex® suit for many of those, starting out in the go-cart days. Nomex® is an amazing material. I have, unfortunately, had the opportunity to test this product in my racing. I was in a midget several years ago and (the car) did catch on fire, which is pretty scary because you can't see the flames. You don't know you're on fire until it's almost too late. I was actually running through a practice and a fuel line came loose and I noticed my steering wheel was on fire and that's why I knew I was on fire. I felt some heat, but nothing ever touched me…no flames ever got to me, no burns ever got to me. Of course in the midget cars we're wearing three layers plus a Nomex® underwear lining underneath it and that's the reason why…I certainly wouldn't get in a racecar and do my job without having Nomex® on."
Robert Pressley is a veteran competitor on both the Winston Cup circuit and the Busch Grand National Series. In 1992, Pressley began driving duties in the #59 Alliance-sponsored car, owned by Daniel and Barbara Welch, and led the Busch Series with five victories and two pole positions that year. He won the event at Darlington Raceway after a last-lap duel with the legendary Harry Gant, which remains his most memorable racing moment.
DuPont Nomex® added precious seconds of flash-fire protection for Robert Pressley at the Bristol Motor Speedway. Clad in a thermal-resistant Nomex® suit, Pressley survived the heat and flames that erupted from car #77. "Nomex® did what it needed to do — I was amazed that I was not hurt. If my suit had started to burn, it would have broken my concentration, which could cause me to panic."
Austrian racer Gerhard Berger has had 210 Grand Prix starts and 10 Grand Prix wins. He has secured 12 pole positions in his career and earned 385 points. His most famous finish, however, may be the 1989 San Marino Grand-Prix, for that was when he walked away from a life-threatening accident. His car hit a wall at 270 kilometers an hour and burst into flames. Thanks to the rapid intervention rescue team and his protective race suit, head cover, and underwear all made with DuPont™ Nomex® brand fiber, Berger suffered only hand injuries. He returned to racing within a month of his accident.
Thirty-year-old Dutch racer Jos Verstappen made the jump into F1 when he had fewer than 50 car races under his belt. While he was serving as the test driver for the Benetton team in 1994, Verstappen's car was engulfed in flames after a refueling spill during a pit stop at Hockenheim in Germany. Because he was attired in racing apparel of Nomex®, he received only minor facial burns. Approximately one month after the fire, he scored his best results to date, with second- and third-place finishes in the 1994 Hungarian Grand Prix and the Belgian Grand Prix.
Professional racecar drivers aren't the only ones in the racing industry who wear protective apparel of Nomex®, however. Safety rules also require pit crews, rescue teams, and track officials who work in the presence of potential flash fires to wear protective flame-resistant clothing. Racing pro Jeff Gordon says that he's "...fortunate to have [his] crew members wear [Nomex®] up and down pit road.
"Maybe we don't all have to walk around on a daily basis wearing Nomex®, but in any situation where you're near or there's the possibility of a fire of any kind, it's extremely important to have this material on. I know that our guys wouldn't do their jobs on Sundays or Saturday nights, endless weekends, without it."