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Bill Simpson Unleashed

Many lives changed when Dale Earnhardt died against the wall at the Daytona 500 this February, and few more than Bill Simpson's. The long-time motorsports safety pioneer and manufacturer lost a friend and fellow racer that unbelievable day, but he was to lose even more in the aftermath of Earnhardt's death. From the moment NASCAR officials stated at a news conference at Rockingham, NC the next week that Earnhardt's left lap belt had separated (while not naming any particular brand name), Simpson's reputation and legacy earned over 43 years of making racing safer were shredded like that webbing.

In this exclusive and candid interview by phone with CRO on Sept 10, 2001, Simpson reveals he will not go quietly after Earnhardt's death -- he is going to build a new company to manufacture racing safety gear; he is going to "raise the bar" on safety equipment; and he's going to continue to devote his life to saving those of people who choose to make motorsports their hobby or profession. Life goes on for Bill Simpson, and if he has anything to do with it, other racers' lives will too. - Glen Grissom

CRO: I just have a few questions . . .

Bill Simpson: Let me tell you something, I don't really have a lot to say, because there is some pending litigation. You better just ask me what you want to ask me, and if I can answer it I will, and if I can't I'm going to say, "I can't answer it."

CRO: You were in court today, was this related at all to . . .

Simpson: I don't want to say. I've been there all day. No battle yet, but there's going to be, though.

CRO: You and I spoke after the deaths of Adam Petty and Kenny Irwin, and the tone at that time was that we thought NASCAR was going to take steps forward to make racing safer. Can you comment on what has changed?

Simpson: Nothing changed. There's been no change. They give you a lot of rhetoric, they do a lot of dialogue, but they don't do anything.

CRO: There was no news conference after Petty or Irwin's death holding up a part that may have contributed to their deaths, like there was after Earnhardt's. Even though stuck throttle blades were attributed to be the cause.

Simpson: They've never had news conferences. They had tire problems a few years ago; if you recall they were popping right-front tires and crashing all kinds of cars -- never had a press conference to talk about the tire problem they had. They've never had a press conference to talk about any kind of equipment failure that they ever had.

CRO: So why did they have one after Dale Earnhardt?

Simpson: Your guess is as good as mine. I don't really know. It was a shock to me. Particularly when you consider that - when they supposedly found this stuff [belt - Ed.] - and I still don't believe the thing [belt - Ed.] was broken, and I never will.

CRO: You believe it was cut?


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