Inductees
Downing & Hubbard
 Downing & Hubbard
Stats
Category: Technical
CLASS OF: 2024
BORN: Downing, January 4, 1942
Hubbard, June 8, 1943
DIED: Hubbard, February 5, 2019
BIRTHPLACE: Downing, Atlanta, Georgia
Achievements

 

 


Official Nomination Bio

The HANS (Head and Neck Support) Device has saved more drivers than possibly any other advance in the past 50 years. Head and neck injuries, including basilar skull fractures, used to claim many lives, including Dale Earnhardt, Bill Vukovich, Neil Bonnett and Tony Bettenhausen. Five-time IMSA champ Downing teamed with brother-in-law Hubbard, a biomechanical engineering professor at Michigan State University, to create the U-shaped device which restrains the head from whipping back and forth in a crash. They built prototypes in the 1980s, but the racing establishment didn’t begin to embrace it until Ayrton Senna was killed in 1994. Widespread acceptance came after Earnhardt’s death in 2001. Today, the HANS Device is required by virtually every major sanctioning body.

OFFICIAL INDUCTION BIOGRAPHY

By Jonathan Ingram

The honor of inventing motor racing’s first head restraint belongs to the late Dr. Robert Hubbard, who was a professor of biomechanical engineering at Michigan State. But Jim Downing, his brother-in-law, played a critical role in the creation of the HANS.

Concerned about safety early in the 1980s, Downing began asking, “Why can’t something be done about head injuries?” Because of his background in occupant safety in the auto industry, Hubbard, who was more like a brother than an in-law, was well-positioned to respond.

Starting with a handmade version fashioned from duct tape and cardboard on his kitchen table, Hubbard built a fiberglass prototype that he and Downing dubbed a Head And Neck Support, or HANS. They were confident it would help prevent a head injury to Downing and save other lives. But it took Hubbard and Downing nearly two decades to gain acceptance for their device, which eventually saved thousands of lives around the world. 

A five-time IMSA champion, in 1980, Downing had a heavy crash on board a Mazda RX-7 at Mosport Park in Canada, which destroyed the back half of the car. He realized he might not have survived a frontal impact. The following year, fellow IMSA competitor Patrick Jacquemart was killed by a basilar skull fracture in a frontal crash during a test at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Downing realized, once again, that it might have been his own funeral and sought his brother-in-law’s help.

Hubbard was already familiar with the criteria for head injuries. When General Motors began using crash test dummies in the 1960s, it was Hubbard who designed the dummy’s head.  Once satisfied with his head restraint held in place by a shoulder harness, Hubbard then introduced another new safety concept by sled testing the HANS to confirm it would prevent fatal injuries by reducing neck tension in a crash.

The inaugural Model I devices included side tethers held in place by a large wraparound collar. Downing wore one for the first time in competition at Daytona International Speedway in November of 1986.

Finished in white gelcoat, it was sarcastically dubbed by other racers a “Cinderella Collar.” Undeterred, Downing wore a black carbon fiber version for 10 years, which included a class victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans piloting one of his Kudzu prototypes.

But the Model I sold sporadically, and Hubbard recognized the size of his device was preventing acceptance by racers. It was not until the late 1990s that Mercedes-Benz helped fund the development of a two-tether HANS, resulting in a downsized “frontal” head restraint.

Unfortunately, it took a series of deaths from basilar skull fractures in Formula 1, IndyCar and NASCAR, including Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s fatality on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, before major sanctioning bodies recognized the need to mandate the now-familiar two-tether HANS. 

The mandates eventually led to universal acceptance of the HANS Device around the world.Car and Driver magazine called it the greatest safety invention since the seatbelt. Not only did the HANS save lives, it helped save the sport, becoming a key link in a new era of racing safety.

 

Ingram, the author of eight racing books, has written about motorsports for more than four decades. His book CRASH! chronicles the history of the HANS Device and includes a definitive account of Dale Earnhardt’s fatal crash in the 2001 Daytona 500. 

 

OFFICIAL INDUCTION PRESENTER(S)

Motorsports journalist Jonathan Ingram

(John Mahoney)

Jonathan

INDUCTEES

Tony Adamowicz

Bob Akin

Alex Xydias & Dean Batchelor

Tyler Alexander

Jeb Allen

Reverend Richard Anderson

Frank Arciero

Jon Asher

Pat Austin

Roger Bailey

Max Balchowsky

Michael Baldwin

Earl Baltes

Skip Barber

Tom Beatty

Gary Beck

Dick Berggren

Gary Bettenhausen

Tom Bigelow

Thomas W. Binford

Pete Biro

Geoff Bodine

Bruce Boland

John R. Bond

Griffith Borgeson

Sebastien Bourdais

Gina Bovaird

Don Branson

Eric Broadley

Antron Brown

Ron Brown

John Buffum

William. R. "Bill" Burke

The Burklands

Larry Burton

Kurt Busch

Buddy Byers

Kevin Cameron

Paul Candies

Scotty Cannon

Steve Carbone

Russ Catlin

Eddie Cheever

Luigi Chinetti Sr.

Price Cobb

Austin Coil

Austin Coil

Russ Collins

Jessi Combs

John Cooper

Ray Cote

Buster Couch

Dale Coyne

Duff Daily

Robert Daley

Gian Paolo Dallara

Steve David

Donald Davidson

Grady Davis

Jim Deist

David Dewald

Larry Dickson

Scott Dixon

Scott Dixon

Miguel Duhamel

Jim Dunn

Lee Dykstra

Rob Dyson

Carl Edwards

Bud Ekins

Bud Ekins

Dave Ekins

Ray Elder

Jeff Emig

Richie Evans

Don Fairbanks

Red Farmer

Bud Feldkamp

Sal Fish

Herb Fishel

Ray Fox

Jim France

Frank Costin & Keith Duckworth (Cosworth)

Dave Friedman

Harry Gant

Michael Gaughan

Tom Gentry

Tony George

Joe Gibbs

Steve Gibbs

Hoot Gibson

Earl B. Gilmore

Bill "Maverick" Golden

Robby Gordon

Randy Goss

Granville Brothers

John Greenwood

Dick Guldstrand

Gene Haas

Carl Haas

Ted Halibrand

Rod Hall

Pete Halsmer

Tanis Hammond

Jeff Hammond

Jerry Hansen

Walt Hansgen

Trevor Harris

Brett Hearn

Pat Hemen

George Henley

Fran Hernandez

Bob Higbee

Tom Higgins

Steve Hinton

Takeo "Chickie" Hirashima

Bob Holbert

Tom Hoover

Jay Howell

Ralph Hudson

Jim Hunter

Jim Hurtubise

James Hylton

Jack Ingram

Dale Inman

Ernie Irvan

Bobby Isaac

Ed Iskenderian

Dale Jarrett

Jim Downing & Dr. Bob Hubbard

Alex Job

Jimmie Johnson

Jimmie Johnson

Bubby Jones

Ron Jones Sr.

Mike Joy

Karl Kainhofer

Scott Kalitta

Jim Kaser

Neil Keen

Matt Kenseth

Bill Kerchenfaut

Karl Kinser

Gordon Kirby

Oscar Koveleski

Tom Kristensen

Jim Kropfeld

Eddie Kuzma

Danny LaPorte

Dick Landy

Bruce Larson

Henry Lauterbach

Larry Lauterbach

Jungle Jim Liberman

"Duffy" Livingstone

Walter Lott

Leo Loudenslager

Forrest Lucas

Jim Luikens

Roy Lunn

Pete Lyons

Rob MacCachren

Dave MacDonald

Randy Mamola

Leon Mandel

Peter Manso

Frank Manzo

Mario Illien & Paul Morgan

Marc Marquez

Teddy Mayer

Larry McBride

Roy "Mac" McClain

Jack McCoy

Jim McElreath

Mary McGee

Corky McMillin

Larry McReynolds

Roger Mears

John Mecom Jr.

John Menard Jr.

Jim Miller

Ak Miller

Drino Miller

Bill Milliken

Jack Milne

Milt Minter

Juan Pablo Montoya

John Morton

Danny "Chocolate" Myers

Herb Nab

Paul Newman

P.L. Newman

Don Nichols

Jim Nicoll

Morris "Mo" Nunn

Kitty Linn O'Neil

Jan Opperman

Mark Oswald

Cotton Owens

Paul Page

Don Panoz

John Parker

Ron Pellegrini

Jack Penton

John Penton

Maurice Petty

Paul Pfanner

Vince Piggins

Art Pillsbury

Randy Pobst

Vasek Polak

Doug Polen

Chris Pook

George R. Poteet

Richie Powers

Dale Pulde

Larry Ragland

Fred Rahmer

Cal Rayborn

Reher-Morrison-Shepherd

Roger Reiman

Lance Reventlow

Steve Reyes

Willy T. Ribbs

Larry Rice

Tim Richmond

Jody Ridley

J.N. Roberts

Kenny Roberts Jr.

T. Wayne Robertson

Chip Robinson

"Sneaky Pete" Robinson

Larry Roeseler

Gene Romero

Dave Roper

Suzanne Royce

Ricky Rudd

Scott Russell

Bob Russo

Angelle Sampey

Joe Scalzo

Gary Scelzi

Billy "The Kid" Schumacher

Tony Schumacher

Gary Scott

Wendell Scott

Ralph Seagraves

Mike Seebold

Tim Seebold

Tricia Kisner Shaffer

Jon Sharp

Hap Sharp

Bob Sharp

Kirk Shelmerdine

Dean Sicking

Bruton Smith

Carroll Smith

Marty Smith

Speedy Bill Smith

Al Speyer

Ben Spies

Lyn St. James

Bob Stange

Jeff Stanton

Les Staudacher

Mike Stefanik

Charles D. Strang

Bill Stroppe

Don Sullivan

Summers Brothers

The Surfers

John Surtees

John Surtees

Sammy Swindell

Sammy Tanner

Mark Tate

Wayne Taylor

Al Teague

Charlie Terry

Richard Tharp

The Ramchargers

Chuck Thompson

Judy Thompson

Valerie Thompson

Danny Thompson

Rahn Tobler

Paul Tracy

Travers & Coon (Traco)

Merv Treichler

Elmer Trett

Jim Trueman

Alec Ulmann

Skip Van Leeuwen

Jimmy Vasser

John Vesco

Frank "Scoop" Vessels

Jacques Villeneuve

Dave Villwock

Judy Wagner

Patty Wagstaff

Phil Walters

Ron Watson

Kermit Weeks

Bill Werner

Dan Wheldon

Nolan White

Rex White

John Wiebe

Vic Wilson

Steve Wise

Doug Wolfgang

LeeRoy Yarbrough

Robert Yates

Jeana Yeager

Dave Zeuschel

Gil de Ferran

Josie van Neumann

ALSO IN THIS CLASS

Tony Adamowicz

Bob Akin

Alex Xydias & Dean Batchelor

Tyler Alexander

Jeb Allen

Reverend Richard Anderson

Frank Arciero

Jon Asher

Pat Austin

Roger Bailey

Max Balchowsky

Michael Baldwin

Earl Baltes

Skip Barber

Tom Beatty

Gary Beck

Dick Berggren

Gary Bettenhausen

Tom Bigelow

Thomas W. Binford

Pete Biro

Geoff Bodine

Bruce Boland

John R. Bond

Griffith Borgeson

Sebastien Bourdais

Gina Bovaird

Don Branson

Eric Broadley

Antron Brown

Ron Brown

John Buffum

William. R. "Bill" Burke

The Burklands

Larry Burton

Kurt Busch

Buddy Byers

Kevin Cameron

Paul Candies

Scotty Cannon

Steve Carbone

Russ Catlin

Eddie Cheever

Luigi Chinetti Sr.

Price Cobb

Austin Coil

Austin Coil

Russ Collins

Jessi Combs

John Cooper

Ray Cote

Buster Couch

Dale Coyne

Duff Daily

Robert Daley

Gian Paolo Dallara

Steve David

Donald Davidson

Grady Davis

Jim Deist

David Dewald

Larry Dickson

Scott Dixon

Scott Dixon

Miguel Duhamel

Jim Dunn

Lee Dykstra

Rob Dyson

Carl Edwards

Bud Ekins

Bud Ekins

Dave Ekins

Ray Elder

Jeff Emig

Richie Evans

Don Fairbanks

Red Farmer

Bud Feldkamp

Sal Fish

Herb Fishel

Ray Fox

Jim France

Frank Costin & Keith Duckworth (Cosworth)

Dave Friedman

Harry Gant

Michael Gaughan

Tom Gentry

Tony George

Joe Gibbs

Steve Gibbs

Hoot Gibson

Earl B. Gilmore

Bill "Maverick" Golden

Robby Gordon

Randy Goss

Granville Brothers

John Greenwood

Dick Guldstrand

Gene Haas

Carl Haas

Ted Halibrand

Rod Hall

Pete Halsmer

Tanis Hammond

Jeff Hammond

Jerry Hansen

Walt Hansgen

Trevor Harris

Brett Hearn

Pat Hemen

George Henley

Fran Hernandez

Bob Higbee

Tom Higgins

Steve Hinton

Takeo "Chickie" Hirashima

Bob Holbert

Tom Hoover

Jay Howell

Ralph Hudson

Jim Hunter

Jim Hurtubise

James Hylton

Jack Ingram

Dale Inman

Ernie Irvan

Bobby Isaac

Ed Iskenderian

Dale Jarrett

Jim Downing & Dr. Bob Hubbard

Alex Job

Jimmie Johnson

Jimmie Johnson

Bubby Jones

Ron Jones Sr.

Mike Joy

Karl Kainhofer

Scott Kalitta

Jim Kaser

Neil Keen

Matt Kenseth

Bill Kerchenfaut

Karl Kinser

Gordon Kirby

Oscar Koveleski

Tom Kristensen

Jim Kropfeld

Eddie Kuzma

Danny LaPorte

Dick Landy

Bruce Larson

Henry Lauterbach

Larry Lauterbach

Jungle Jim Liberman

"Duffy" Livingstone

Walter Lott

Leo Loudenslager

Forrest Lucas

Jim Luikens

Roy Lunn

Pete Lyons

Rob MacCachren

Dave MacDonald

Randy Mamola

Leon Mandel

Peter Manso

Frank Manzo

Mario Illien & Paul Morgan

Marc Marquez

Teddy Mayer

Larry McBride

Roy "Mac" McClain

Jack McCoy

Jim McElreath

Mary McGee

Corky McMillin

Larry McReynolds

Roger Mears

John Mecom Jr.

John Menard Jr.

Jim Miller

Ak Miller

Drino Miller

Bill Milliken

Jack Milne

Milt Minter

Juan Pablo Montoya

John Morton

Danny "Chocolate" Myers

Herb Nab

Paul Newman

P.L. Newman

Don Nichols

Jim Nicoll

Morris "Mo" Nunn

Kitty Linn O'Neil

Jan Opperman

Mark Oswald

Cotton Owens

Paul Page

Don Panoz

John Parker

Ron Pellegrini

Jack Penton

John Penton

Maurice Petty

Paul Pfanner

Vince Piggins

Art Pillsbury

Randy Pobst

Vasek Polak

Doug Polen

Chris Pook

George R. Poteet

Richie Powers

Dale Pulde

Larry Ragland

Fred Rahmer

Cal Rayborn

Reher-Morrison-Shepherd

Roger Reiman

Lance Reventlow

Steve Reyes

Willy T. Ribbs

Larry Rice

Tim Richmond

Jody Ridley

J.N. Roberts

Kenny Roberts Jr.

T. Wayne Robertson

Chip Robinson

"Sneaky Pete" Robinson

Larry Roeseler

Gene Romero

Dave Roper

Suzanne Royce

Ricky Rudd

Scott Russell

Bob Russo

Angelle Sampey

Joe Scalzo

Gary Scelzi

Billy "The Kid" Schumacher

Tony Schumacher

Gary Scott

Wendell Scott

Ralph Seagraves

Mike Seebold

Tim Seebold

Tricia Kisner Shaffer

Jon Sharp

Hap Sharp

Bob Sharp

Kirk Shelmerdine

Dean Sicking

Bruton Smith

Carroll Smith

Marty Smith

Speedy Bill Smith

Al Speyer

Ben Spies

Lyn St. James

Bob Stange

Jeff Stanton

Les Staudacher

Mike Stefanik

Charles D. Strang

Bill Stroppe

Don Sullivan

Summers Brothers

The Surfers

John Surtees

John Surtees

Sammy Swindell

Sammy Tanner

Mark Tate

Wayne Taylor

Al Teague

Charlie Terry

Richard Tharp

The Ramchargers

Chuck Thompson

Judy Thompson

Valerie Thompson

Danny Thompson

Rahn Tobler

Paul Tracy

Travers & Coon (Traco)

Merv Treichler

Elmer Trett

Jim Trueman

Alec Ulmann

Skip Van Leeuwen

Jimmy Vasser

John Vesco

Frank "Scoop" Vessels

Jacques Villeneuve

Dave Villwock

Judy Wagner

Patty Wagstaff

Phil Walters

Ron Watson

Kermit Weeks

Bill Werner

Dan Wheldon

Nolan White

Rex White

John Wiebe

Vic Wilson

Steve Wise

Doug Wolfgang

LeeRoy Yarbrough

Robert Yates

Jeana Yeager

Dave Zeuschel

Gil de Ferran

Josie van Neumann

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