NASCAR safety pioneer Dr. John Melvin passes away
JUL 18, 2014 11:55a ET
Dr. John Melvin, who served as a safety consultant for NASCAR over the past 13 years, passed away on Thursday.
Most NASCAR fans might not know his name, but in the NASCAR community Dr. Melvin's work was paramount in the field of driver safety.
A former University of Michigan professor and senior research engineer with General Motors, Dr. Melvin became a paid safety consultant for NASCAR, serving as the Technical Consultant to NASCAR for Racecar Safety.
In this role, Dr. Melvin worked on safety innovations such as the head-and-neck restraints, seat construction, seat belts and SAFER barriers. Dr. Melvin was also the first to develop a black box for racecars in 1991 as part of the GM Racing Safety Program.
"NASCAR and the entire motorsports industry lost a giant on Thursday with the passing of Dr. John Melvin. Dr. Melvin was a pioneer in the field of driver safety, particularly in the area of driver restraint systems," NASCAR president Mike Helton said in a statement. "His many contributions as a safety consultant to NASCAR for more than 13 years forever changed the sport. We lost a colleague, and a friend.
"NASCAR extends its condolences to Dr. Melvin's family and friends. He will be greatly missed by the entire racing community."
Former Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski took to his personal Twitter account Friday afternoon to express his condolences and explain Dr. Melvin's impact.
Huge loss for motorsports. Sorry to hear this for him and his family @bobpockrass— Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) July 18, 2014
I used to have a video of a seminar Dr. Melvin did in Daytona Feb. 2001. The presentation was haunting and way ahead of its time.— Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) July 18, 2014
Dr. Melvin recommended the use of over under shoulder harnesses & 6 point t-bar crotch belts that probably saved my life in various crashes.— Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) July 18, 2014
Keselowski wasn't the only member of the NASCAR community to come out offer their condolences on Twitter, though.
Terrible to hear about Dr. John Melvin. He was a big part of me getting back in the car and figuring out what happened in my crash— Michael Annett (@MichaelAnnett) July 18, 2014
Very sad to hear about the passing of Dr Melvin. He help in so many ways to make our sport safer. He will be missed. #NASCAR— Wally Rogers (@walr2772) July 18, 2014
Ford Racing joins the motorsport community in mourning the passing of Dr. John Melvin, one of the pioneers of driver safety in the sport.— Ford Racing (@FordRacing) July 18, 2014
Just got some sad news that Dr. John Melvin has passed away. He did so much for making auto racing safer and educating racers. #respect— Andy Graves (@AndyJGraves) July 18, 2014