Tips from a racecar driver on how to help lessen the potential for injuries in a wreck

My name is Lynn and I’m the Director of Marketing for the SVG Motors Auto Group. I was also a circle-track racecar driver from 2003-2015.

By choice, my father’s entire life revolves around vehicles because they are his passion. His profession was as an educator – he taught auto collision for 35 years at the local vocational school and gave hundreds of young men and women the knowledge to make a good living in the auto industry. His hobby is circle-track racing; it’s a hobby he loves to this day and has participated in since 1968. It’s no secret to those that know me that I inherited his love of vehicles, and although I didn’t follow in his professional footsteps, I most certainly followed in his footsteps when it came to his hobby of choice.

Lynn Mitchell Racing 

This was one of the 5 racecars I’ve driven.


Having grown up spending every weekend of every year from April through October watching my dad race at local tracks such as Kil-Kare and Shadybowl (among many others), I saw my fair share of on-track wrecks. Guessing how many wrecks I’ve witnessed would be difficult, but it’s fair to say I’ve attended at least 3,000 racing events. While some events are crash-filled, some go fairly smoothly. On average, I’d say there are about three wrecks per racing event. Following the math, that equals me personally witnessing around 9,000 wrecks. You learn a thing or two after seeing that much destruction.


The benefit of seeing so many wrecks is that I had the opportunity to observe how the cars would react when hitting another car or the wall. Time seems to slow down exponentially during a wreck. I have vivid recollections of watching how driver’s bodies would move and react upon impact. By talking with these same drivers after their wrecks, I was also able to learn how and if they were injured during the wreck. A lifetime of cataloguing this information into my brain enabled me to formulate some tactics to help prevent or lessen the potential for injury during an accident.


When I began racing, I diligently used these self-preservation tactics on the track (because the truth is, no matter how good you are at racing, wrecks will happen). As a mom, it was my responsibility to ensure I took every precaution available to help protect my safety for my kid's sake. Although I’ve been blessed enough to not have experienced a wreck on the road in nearly 25 years, I experienced a few during my racing career. My racing incidents would usually leave me with a few small bruises or bumps, but I was never seriously injured. I attribute that fact to following the tips I'm about to give you. These tips can be used by every driver, no matter what kind of vehicle you drive. Auto accidents in the U.S. are responsible for 75% of all traumatic brain injuries and 93 fatalities occurring per day. Knowing these techniques can hopefully help you and your loved ones from becoming one of those statistics.


·      Tip #1: I don’t care if it’s uncomfortable. WEAR YOUR SEATBELTS. Had I not been using the proper safety equipment in my racecar, I’d be dead now. Also, wear it properly. For those of you who are short like me, it’s really tempting to put the chest strap behind your back since it feels like it’s digging into your neck or choking you. Truth be told, it IS digging into your neck, but the alternative is much, much worse. I’d much rather have a bruise on my neck from a seatbelt than to smash my face into a dashboard at a high rate of speed. To illustrate this concept, watch the video below. The only injury I had after the impact was a burn mark on my neck from the belt (note: I’m the one driving the white car with pink and purple graphics). I was spared from some serious injury because I was using the proper restraints.

The head-on wreck:

The resulting injury:

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·      Tip #2: Face forward, and sit with your back and head against the seat. The point is to distribute your body weight as evenly as you can in your seat. Facing forward also helps the airbag (if deployed) to protect the vital areas of your body it’s designed to protect.


·      Tip #3: If you know the impact is coming and is 100% unavoidable, let go of the steering wheel and cross your arms over your chest. Often, people tense up and hold onto the steering wheel when they see an impact coming and this can fracture wrists, arms, and shoulders. Pulling your arms to your body and crossing them against your chest helps keep your hands from lurching forward and striking things during the impact.

This random modeling photo from actually shows the correct placement of your hands when you know you're about to have an impact:
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·      Tip #4: Your driving instructor was correct…you should have your hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel. Using both hands to steer can give you enough control that in certain circumstances, you can potentially avoid an impact using precise maneuvering. But if you can't steer out of a spin and you know the impact is coming, let go of the wheel and use Tip #3!


·      Tip #5: Try not to tense up if you know for sure that you’re going to hit something (although it’s easier said than done). The sudden impact will transfer energy to your tensed up, rigid muscles which can cause limbs to bend in ways they shouldn’t.


·      Tip #6: Don’t sit too close to the steering wheel. You should be able to fully press down on both the accelerator and brake from your seat without stretching, but….it’s equally important to move your seat back as far as you can while still being able to press the pedals down fully. Sitting too close to the airbag can actually cause injuries instead of preventing them.


I hope you appreciate these tips I've provided. Steve VanGorder and everyone in the SVG Motors Auto Group cares about you and your safety. It's our goal to give you a Superior Value Guarantee and also to provide you with tips, tricks, advice, and articles to help make owning your vehicle more safe, fun, and enjoyable. If  you're in the market for a new car, you owe it to yourself to shop with a company that will treat you like family and give you the best value -- and that company is SVG.







Categories: Tech tips, News