TOPEKA, Kan. (Feb. 7, 2019) -- Dr. Robert Hubbard, a 2014 inductee into the Sports Car Club of America® Hall of Fame, has passed away. He was 75 years old.
A retired professor of biomechanical engineering at Michigan State University, Dr. Hubbard had extensive experience and standout credentials as a biomechanical crash engineer. His efforts included work with General Motors' automotive safety program that resulted in significant, far-reaching results to improve vehicle occupant safety.
In the world of motorsport, Dr. Hubbard is recognized as co-creator of the HANS device alongside brother-in-law Jim Downing, who is also a SCCA® Hall of Fame inductee and longtime Club Road Racing competitor. After the on-track death of a friend, Dr. Hubbard and Downing initiated research on a Head and Neck Support (HANS) system that would afford protection for a driver and otherwise help prevent injuries associated with sudden stops and violent head movements.
The first HANS prototype was developed in 1985, and in crash tests four years later -- the first such tests to utilize crash sleds and crash dummies with race car seat belt harnesses -- results showed the energy exerted on the head and neck was lowered by a phenomenal 80 percent thanks to the HANS technology. Dr. Hubbard worked diligently to accelerate SCCA’s acceptance of the HANS device, providing invaluable help and guidance in putting on SCCA’s Safety Seminar at the 2004 National Convention. Today, most major auto racing sanctioning bodies now mandate the use of head and neck restraints.
Our thoughts and hearts go out to Dr. Hubbard’s family and friends. And certainly, everyone involved in motorsports around the world gives thanks to Dr. Hubbard, as well as Mr. Downing, for their dedication and drive in protecting our loved ones involved in the sport we love.