The Safety Shut-off system is made up of two parts, (above) a vehicle-mounted receiver (arrow) and a guardwall-mounted transmitter (below).
All participants in the Top Fuel dragster and Funny Car classes will be required to use an Electrimotion Safety Shut-off Receiver at the season-opening 50th annual Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals presented by Valvoline.
The Safety Shut-off Receiver, small enough to fit into a shirt pocket and weighing less than 6 ounces, is installed near the rear of the car on both dragsters and Funny Cars and will activate the previously mandated Electrimotion Safety Shut-off Box when it receives a unique digital message sent to it by the Electrimotion Safety Shut-off Transmitter. The Shut-off Transmitter, which is only slightly larger than the receiver, will be mounted to the guardwall approximately 400 feet past the finish line.
The complete system will initiate a vehicle shutdown sequence – turning off both the ignition and fuel systems and deploying the braking parachute – in the event that the driver is not able to do so.
Only a car passing in close proximity to the transmitter can receive the message, which will help ensure that the receiver does not trigger the system prior to the finish line. A second redundant transmitter will be mounted 600 feet past the finish line on the opposite guardwall from the first transmitter. This redundant transmitter will act as a backup to the primary transmitter in the event the receiver does not receive the message from the first transmitter.
NHRA worked closely with Electrimotion during the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season to test this new safety system. First tests were performed with a few Top Fuel and Funny Car teams using their cars' existing onboard data-acquisition systems to help monitor performance of the transmitter and receivers. Based on the results of that testing, adjustments were made to both the transmitter and receiver design to optimize performance. Final full-system testing was done during competition at the last two races of the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season.
Recently, several teams successfully used the system during preseason testing at Firebird Int'l Raceway. “The system worked flawlessly for us during our preseason testing,” said reigning NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car world champion Robert Hight. “It is a comfort knowing that this system can shut down my engine and deploy my parachutes if I am unable to do so for any reason.”