Catch Fences, are there any better ideas?

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jimmyj
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Catch Fences, are there any better ideas?

Post by jimmyj »

The Robert Wickens Indy car crash once again shows how dangerous those catch fences are when a car gets up into them. I have thought and thought about this and simply cannot come up with a better idea to keep the cars from flying way off or worse into the crowd. Certainly large runoff areas are more and more common at the modern tracks, but have any of you seen anything superior to such a fence? We have livestock on the farm and generally a fence with smaller openings is less prone to catching and snagging things, but at 200mph, I doubt any size of opening with rigid supports behind it would make much difference.

What are your thoughts?

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Re: Catch Fences, are there any better ideas?

Post by F1 MERCENARY »

I've long thought about this and I feel that YES, there can be better, SAFER methods for absorbing such energy and catch fencing isn't it. An energy absorbing system needs to be devised
where once a car makes contact with the retaining element, it gradually grabs hold of the vehicle or debris without allowing it to whip around or roll violently. A bungee cord type product
with Kevlar weaved into it to ensure it doesn't break, might just be the ticket to ending these violent impacts.
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Re: Catch Fences, are there any better ideas?

Post by mikeyg123 »

F1 MERCENARY wrote:I've long thought about this and I feel that YES, there can be better, SAFER methods for absorbing such energy and catch fencing isn't it. An energy absorbing system needs to be devised
where once a car makes contact with the retaining element, it gradually grabs hold of the vehicle or debris without allowing it to whip around or roll violently. A bungee cord type product
with Kevlar weaved into it to ensure it doesn't break, might just be the ticket to ending these violent impacts.
Remember for it to be practical fans circuit side need to be able to see through it.

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Re: Catch Fences, are there any better ideas?

Post by Flash2k11 »

Surely anything with a tiny bit of 'give' would be better than the current solution? Right now its a cheese grater, I get it does the job keeping the car out of the crowd, and in that respect they probably have the safety balance correct (the crowd arent being paid a few thousand K a race to go about it) but it really is something that does seem outdated.
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Re: Catch Fences, are there any better ideas?

Post by Underviewer »

Flash2k11 wrote:Surely anything with a tiny bit of 'give' would be better than the current solution? Right now its a cheese grater, I get it does the job keeping the car out of the crowd, and in that respect they probably have the safety balance correct (the crowd arent being paid a few thousand K a race to go about it) but it really is something that does seem outdated.
I think you've hit the nail on the head about why we still have catch fencing as opposed to something better (which there must be). The idea that the drivers are not forced to race on these ovals where they could end up dying in the catch fence so why should 'we' pay millions to make it safer for them?

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Re: Catch Fences, are there any better ideas?

Post by Blake »

Underviewer wrote:
Flash2k11 wrote:Surely anything with a tiny bit of 'give' would be better than the current solution? Right now its a cheese grater, I get it does the job keeping the car out of the crowd, and in that respect they probably have the safety balance correct (the crowd arent being paid a few thousand K a race to go about it) but it really is something that does seem outdated.
I think you've hit the nail on the head about why we still have catch fencing as opposed to something better (which there must be). The idea that the drivers are not forced to race on these ovals where they could end up dying in the catch fence so why should 'we' pay millions to make it safer for them?
Then tell us the answer...

They should always strive to make the sport, any sport, safer, but unless one has to also consider the viewers. To be fair, the catch fences do have some give to them as it is now. There may well be a better answer, but I am not gifted with it right now.
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Re: Catch Fences, are there any better ideas?

Post by paulsf1fix »

I'm not going to steal his suggestion but did Paul Tracey or Michael Andretti suggest when Dan Wheldon died involving the catch fencing bullet proof glass?

I just hope Robert Wickens will be alright.

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Re: Catch Fences, are there any better ideas?

Post by funkymonkey »

Only thing i can think of that will not ruin it for the spectators at the track is have better designed walls (softer, more impact absorbing ) followed by a thick acrylic composite laminated curtain followed by the catch fencing as last failsafe. Thick laminated multi layer acrylic will still allow people to see through it, and it is stronger than what one might think. if the impact is severe enough, there is always a catch fence behind it.
Thing is, it wont be cheap and it will be significant modification to the barrier system. But considering how much revenue these events generate, it can be something that can be tried.

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Re: Catch Fences, are there any better ideas?

Post by MB-BOB »

American oval tracks are used for a variety of racing series, from NASCAR, to Trucks, to Indycars, WEC, Am.Lemans, and more. Each has its own car silhouette of differing heights. A 4"-6" inward protruding lip/rail can be molded into the top of the existing "safer" barriers to deflect Indycars back down onto the track prior to the car hitting/hooking the catch fences. But that design will not permit NASCAR sedans and trucks to run close to the wall, etc. Point is there is no solution to fit all.

I'm old enough to remember watching pre-fence races, where cars simply flew over the high banks at Daytona. At least the fans didn't get to see the cars fall to earth on the other side.

Altogether, I think the catch fencing at the high end tracks is more than adequate in protecting the fans from frangible debris, which is the primary purpose. Protecting drivers is important too, but instances as bad as the Wickens accident -- in which the whole car is into the fence -- are relatively few and far between. Prayers for Wickens...
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Re: Catch Fences, are there any better ideas?

Post by P-F1 Mod »

I'm just watching the race now but I've seen the accident. It reminded me of Kenny Brack's about 15 years ago, and that suggests the barriers haven't changed much. I think the above mentioned acrylic idea isn't a bad one, but it would take a lot of convincing for the tracks to want to invest in that.

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Re: Catch Fences, are there any better ideas?

Post by F1 MERCENARY »

The problem with acrylics is that while it is massively strong, its hardness is lesser than most assume and the elements will cause it to haze rather quickly
and it would take an enormous amount of work to restore proper visibility.

Additionally, any impact would gouge it to the point it’s unfixable and would need replacing regularly.

So while in theory it sounds like it will work, there are to many cons to it.

My suggestion of a kevlar lines bungee type netting wouldn’t be too different to the current catch fencing in terms of visibility because Kevlar is so strong
it would be comprised of many thin strands that would absorb energy in unison so as to more gently and firmly cradle a car rather than shredding it to bits.
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Re: Catch Fences, are there any better ideas?

Post by jimmyj »

To me the catch fences present two different types of problems:

a) the heavy vertical support posts are too dangerous when a car strikes one
b) the open weave nature of the cable and fence weaving is subject to penetration and "grabs" and "shreds" vehicles

If you look at the Wickens accident closely, I believe most of the impact was from a vertical post. His car noses through the fence quite a ways between two posts, and then forward momentum causes the side of the tub of his car to strike a post, causing immediate spin to the car (it's the one post that is severely bent). I speculate that this sudden strike was what caused most of the injuries (admittedly pure speculation which can be unwise on my part).

But for the sake of this discussion, could one of the solutions be to somehow, at least on the corners, to move the posts back away from the wall and use a "chord" sort of stringing configuration for the cables and fencing. The chords would have to overlap each other to get complete smooth coverage but such a setup would have catch fencing all along the corner without any posts trackside. I have no idea how to move the posts away on the straightaways.

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Re: Catch Fences, are there any better ideas?

Post by pc27b »

"any better ideas ?"

not really.

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Re: Catch Fences, are there any better ideas?

Post by jimmyj »

pc27b wrote:"any better ideas ?"

not really.
Good post, helpful.

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Re: Catch Fences, are there any better ideas?

Post by pc27b »

jimmyj wrote:
pc27b wrote:"any better ideas ?"

not really.
Good post, helpful.
answered the question. you want me to recommend plexiglas ?
there isn't a better idea as of now. the fence needs to keep the car inside the racing area, it did. at some point someone will come up with a better idea. not now though.

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Re: Catch Fences, are there any better ideas?

Post by Tufty »

pc27b wrote:
jimmyj wrote:
pc27b wrote:"any better ideas ?"

not really.
Good post, helpful.
answered the question. you want me to recommend plexiglas ?
there isn't a better idea as of now. the fence needs to keep the car inside the racing area, it did. at some point someone will come up with a better idea. not now though.
Is it possible to fit plexiglass or similar materials to the catch fencing? That way the snagging effect won't happen but there's not change to the shape of the structure. Sure, a plexiglass panel would need replacing after a major impact, but so does the fencing as it is now.
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Re: Catch Fences, are there any better ideas?

Post by Jezza13 »

Tufty wrote:
pc27b wrote:
jimmyj wrote:
pc27b wrote:"any better ideas ?"

not really.
Good post, helpful.
answered the question. you want me to recommend plexiglas ?
there isn't a better idea as of now. the fence needs to keep the car inside the racing area, it did. at some point someone will come up with a better idea. not now though.
Is it possible to fit plexiglass or similar materials to the catch fencing? That way the snagging effect won't happen but there's not change to the shape of the structure. Sure, a plexiglass panel would need replacing after a major impact, but so does the fencing as it is now.
Would there be possible issues with sun glare if plexiglas is used?

It would also degrade quite quickly in the weather i'd imagine too.
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Re: Catch Fences, are there any better ideas?

Post by Tufty »

Jezza13 wrote:
Tufty wrote:
pc27b wrote:
jimmyj wrote:
pc27b wrote:"any better ideas ?"

not really.
Good post, helpful.
answered the question. you want me to recommend plexiglas ?
there isn't a better idea as of now. the fence needs to keep the car inside the racing area, it did. at some point someone will come up with a better idea. not now though.
Is it possible to fit plexiglass or similar materials to the catch fencing? That way the snagging effect won't happen but there's not change to the shape of the structure. Sure, a plexiglass panel would need replacing after a major impact, but so does the fencing as it is now.
Would there be possible issues with sun glare if plexiglas is used?

It would also degrade quite quickly in the weather i'd imagine too.
How quickly? I'd suggest fitting it fresh before a race weekend to minimise exposure on that basis.

As for glare, wouldn't it be the same issue as with the new aeroscreens? Which to my knowledge weren't causing too many problems in tests.
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Re: Catch Fences, are there any better ideas?

Post by jimmyj »

pc27b wrote:
jimmyj wrote:
pc27b wrote:"any better ideas ?"

not really.
Good post, helpful.
answered the question. you want me to recommend plexiglas ?
there isn't a better idea as of now. the fence needs to keep the car inside the racing area, it did. at some point someone will come up with a better idea. not now though.
Sorry, I meant that as a sarcastic joke, didn't come off well on my part.

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Re: Catch Fences, are there any better ideas?

Post by pc27b »

jimmyj wrote:
pc27b wrote:
jimmyj wrote:
pc27b wrote:"any better ideas ?"

not really.
Good post, helpful.
answered the question. you want me to recommend plexiglas ?
there isn't a better idea as of now. the fence needs to keep the car inside the racing area, it did. at some point someone will come up with a better idea. not now though.
Sorry, I meant that as a sarcastic joke, didn't come off well on my part.
no problem. this has been discussed before with similar crashes. people have looked into it, nothing better has been found...yet
just bummed about wickens

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Re: Catch Fences, are there any better ideas?

Post by wolfticket »

Something smooth and more likely to deflect cars, as opposed to shred them.

To try and make it feasible and relatively affordable I'd try strips of plexiglass along the all the major lateral and vertical cables/stanchions, angled in such a way that they will tend to cleanly deflect the car inwards and downwards.
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Re: Catch Fences, are there any better ideas?

Post by Flash2k11 »

A novel idea from elsewhere on the net: Having grandstands only in the infield on ovals (totally undoable at pretty much any existing venue, granted) and having super high SAFER barriers all around the outside.
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Re: Catch Fences, are there any better ideas?

Post by F1 MERCENARY »

Yeah, that would't work because while acrylic has immense strength, it has to be firmly secured on either 2 opposing sides or be large enough to absorb impact without snapping on or around the one side where it is secured. Yes I said SNAP!

I used to help my dad make furniture for rich folks out of the stuff so I have considerable experience working with the stuff and YES it was the heavy bulletproof variety ranging from .75" thick all the way to 1.75" depending on the size of the piece. We made the coolest rocking chairs out of the .75" stuff and learned how to build in flex via shaping and contouring in combination with the proper amount of heat and stretch and they were so strong they weighed approximately 25lbs and could hold over 450lbs easily but after that the snapping point varied greatly. Some would snap at 480lbs and others would snap closer to 530lbs. That's the problem working with the stuff. Although something along the lines of a track would be more controlled, the snapping point would vary if used in strips as opposed to larger panels, and a snapped piece of the stuff can become a giant sized razor of sorts.

There is a company that I believe is in Europe who makes some of the best stuff that is rather weather resistant but their stuff is like 3x the cost of the regular high-end stuff. They had a bus stop ad campaign a few years back where they'd place a few million dollars in stacks and promised that anyone who could break the glass could take the money home legally. I don't know how much it would cost tracks to utilize their stuff but I bet it's in the millions.

The other option that may work and would make the acrylic more weather resistant would be impact film like we have here in Florida to protect against hurricane force winds and the subsequent flying debris.
We've seen highway signs, gas station dressings and light poles smash into impact resistant windows and still hold, so that film may very well work.
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Re: Catch Fences, are there any better ideas?

Post by wolfticket »

I would suppose that strips could be secured on opposing sides between stanchions, then runs of cable could be secured behind the strips in order to provide lateral reinforcement. Effectively providing a similar level of impact protection to the current fences (stanchions+cables+mesh) but with a much greater tendency to defect cars intact towards the infield. Perhaps polycarbonate or some laminate combination would perform better and fail safer than acrylic?
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Re: Catch Fences, are there any better ideas?

Post by dizlexik »

Run offs.

You can put spectators inside the oval. Or around it just a bit further away on some pillars so there is plenty space for run offs.

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