Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 7, Page


What does the Hans device do for you aside from being a protective device?

CAPPS: I used to have to go to the chiropractor weekly because my back and my neck and upper shoulders were always completely sore and out of whack from strain caused by the negative G’s I experience when I pull the chutes at the end of a 325-mph lap. The first time I wore the Hans, I heard the tether catch and I thought man oh man, this is really stretching my neck, and it made sense to me then to wear the device. Since I've been wearing it my physical problems are about 95% cured. I don't know how many people I've sent to the Hans people. I should probably buy stock in the company. I think it ought to be mandatory to wear something, but yeah, I would recommend the Hans.

Are there any other safety issues right now that you are concerned about? Are there any that should be addressed?

CAPPS: I've been thinking lately on our Funny Car that we need to have something around the leg area, around the shins where the crossbar comes around that should be padded in case a wreck. In a Funny Car, the way you sit, if you're in a front impact, your shins are going to go up and nothing protects or keeps them from hitting the chassis. When Larry Dixon crashed, he broke his leg. Larry had a problem with his legs being flopped around inside the cockpit. They (NHRA) made changes to keep the legs restricted and keep them from bouncing around. We're going to work on it with Murph McKinney to make some kind of knee deal to protect the legs a little bit. But other than that, I feel pretty safe right now.  Murph McKinney builds a great car; every time I see him, I thank him for a great car. I've been through some pretty big stuff in his cars and I have no problem getting in them. 

Your teammate Whit has expressed a concern about the lack of fire protection and safety at test sessions. 

CAPPS:  There've been tracks where we've tested and we've had to have our crew guys go to the top end wearing a spare firesuit and helmets and carrying a fire extinguisher because we just didn't know the people at the top end were prepared to yank my body out of a burning Funny Car.  They probably didn’t know how to get the belts off of me.

[Ed Note; This interview was conducted at the NHRA race at Atlanta the first week in May so some of the issues that Mr. Capps is bringing up here may have been dealt with and resolved.]

Do you think that track safety during testing is the responsibility of the NHRA, the track owners, or should the PRO get involved in this issue?

CAPPS: The PRO is working on that. An example of what a test track should be is the Las Vegas track. Their track personnel prepares their track for testing so that it is as good

as a national event. They know their track, they know how to prepare it well. When you're testing there you are basically given a track that is national-event caliber. What we need are certain test dates set aside and for the NHRA to make sure that safety crews are on hand. NHRA could probably keep safety safari around to prep the track and the top end. Why not have certain NHRA test dates, say after Vegas or Atlanta, six days where teams know they can test there. Tracks the teams know are going to be conditioned like the track was during the national event. I think that's something we need to have in the future and I think that is something PRO is looking at.

  Let’s talk about the Professional Racers Association. How effective is PRO as a racer advocate organization now? Is it a good organization? 

CAPPS:  I just got involved (with the PRO) for the first time this year and I think it's great. I went to the first meeting in Vegas this year. I thought they brought up some great points. 

It's been around for quite sometime though, right?

CAPPS: Yeah, but I was never worried about it. When I was with Snake, a lot of times he wasn't involved with it and there's a rumor at one time that PRO wanted to boycott a session if something didn’t get taken care of. Snake disagreed; he thought the sponsors we had wouldn't appreciate it. So, we never worked with PRO when I drove for Snake. It’s different with the Schumacher organization; they keep track of everything that's going on. The first time I went to a meeting, they came around and asked how the lights were at the last event, how hard it was to see?  Everything they've (PRO) have done has been for the better.  I've seen nothing but positive things from them.

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