Tunnel Vision…A Good Thing?

zizzovisor-1By David G. Firestone

lepage94-2This is a helmet worn by Kevin LePage in 1994. This style of open-faced helmet was worn by drivers for many years in NASCAR, and it was allowed because NASCAR did not want to restrict the vision of the drivers. They felt that if this helmet kept drivers from losing situational awareness and help prevent tunnel vision on some level it would keep them from getting into dangerous wrecks. Why would a driver wear a visor to help create tunnel vision? Let me explain the whole story…

So this last Sunday, I had the day off, no motorsports on TV. I had purchased a racing slick from Zizzo Racing. TJ Zizzo is the driver, he’s based in Lincolnshire Illinois, I’m based in Evanston, and my friend Matt and I went down to pick up the slick. TJ was kind enough to show me around the shop, as they prepare the car for The Toyota Nationals at Las Vegas. TJ was awesome, and I had a great time.

One of the things that I got was a visor. I’ve been wanting to get an NHRA visor from some time, and I got one that had the modification I’ve been seeing, as seen below.zizzovisor-1 zizzovisor-2 zizzovisor-3 zizzovisor-4 zizzovisor-5I asked TJ why he had this modification, and he said that he wants to focus on the task at hand. He said that drag racing drivers can notice things, birds, scoreboards, women in the crowd, etc in the car in the moments leading up to the race, and this modification helps the driver by giving him tunnel vision. Tunnel vision is seen by the majority of people as a bad thing, but in something like drag racing, where intense focus for a brief period of time is a mandate, tunnel vision is a good thing. Top fuel dragsters have 10,000 horsepower and can go from 0 to 325 mph in less than 3 seconds.When you are behind the wheel of a car with that much power, you need to focus on the race as much as possible.¬† TJ wears this style of visor because, the less he can see out of the helmet, the more he can focus on the race.TJ even said that this visor is much less covered than his current version, which looks something like this…zizzovisor-1 - CopyThis version is not uncommon in this day in age, both Al-Anabi drivers Khalid alBalooshi¬† and Shawn Langdon wear visors similar to this design.

I didn’t bring my camera with me, I wish I had, because I got to see the remnants of his engine from his blow up in Indianapolis. As I have a tendency to do, I’ll let the footage speak for itself…

He still has the blower drive seen flying in the video. I was amazed how heavy it was. He has one shelf in his new shop that has the pieces of the engine, and the damage suffered, from a fan’s stand point. The manifold that blew was made of solid magnesium and was heavy duty. The crankshaft in question was not only broken, but was slightly bent near the break. I wound up getting one of the rear tires from that race.zizzortire-1 zizzortire-3

Rear tires from top fuel dragsters are 3 feet tall by 17 inches wide. I’m planning on getting a glass to and making a coffee table at some point. The level of wear on the tires is amazing, with large patches of damage from the explosion.zizzortire-4 zizzortire-5 zizzortire-6 zizzortire-7

zizzortire-10 zizzortire-11TJ also signed it and personalized it to me!zizzortire-2

I also got a front tire, which is 22 inches tall, by 3 inches wide. zizzoftire-1 zizzoftire-2 zizzoftire-3 zizzoftire-4 zizzoftire-5I’m not sure when it was raced, but it does show wear and it has ZIZZO written on the tread. To give an idea the size difference between the two, here are the two of them together in my office…zizzotiresI’ve gotta thank TJ Zizzo and Zizzo Racing for this chance. They are a great bunch of guys, they were all very nice, GO ZIZZO!

The ONLY Time A Visor Looks Good!

By David G. Firestone100_4068

Some time ago, I did two posts focusing on one item, and for the next two weeks, I’ll do something similar. A part of the driver uniform that is seen by virtually everyone but not really discussed is the visor in the helmet. We see them on in-car cameras and on television, but we don’t think about them by itself that much. It seems like a minor part, but it has an interesting history.

From the 1920’s through the late 1980’s, helmets were primarily open-faced. This example is from the 1960’s, and was worn by Maine short track driver Jim McConnell.mcconnell-5 mcconnell-3 mcconnell-1 mcconnell-7 mcconnell-8

These helmets are very simple in design, they just cover the whole head, except for the face. The downside to this is that when the sun shines in the driver’s eyes, or if the car is an open-cockpit the wind can and will force the drivers eyes closed, or fumes from the car can get in a driver’s eyes. As such, these helmets were worn with goggles.100_3182

As full-faced helmets took over, the visor came attached to the helmet. The early ones were basically plexi-glass but as safety certification got more advanced, the visors were and still are fire tested. They also have to stand impact testing as well. As the helmets became more advanced over the years, so did the visors. Let’s take a look at one:100_4068

This visor is from the McDonald’s helmet I covered earlier in the year. It is made of a very tough, but very light clear plastic. The visor is attached to the helmet by 3 screws, two that hold the visor to the helmet and a third that guides the visor and keep it in the proper place. There was a 4th one, but it was removed at the driver’s request. The visor has some unique features. At the bottom-left side there is a small flap, which is used by the driver to open the visor. Next to the small flap is a hole for a small peg. The peg goes in the hole, and holds the visors shut, but is small enough so that if a driver wants to open the helmet, they can do so with no trouble. Drivers frequently leave the visor open slightly, so two small knobs, one on each side so the driver can open or close the visor.100_4069

Notice that it has a yellow-ish tint. This is one of 3 options for drivers, dark tint, light tint, and clear. The visor is designed to be easily changed at the drivers request. Clear visors are used for night races, and tinted ones are used for sunny races. In the event a race goes from day to night, a driver can use a tinted tear off, so that when it gets dark, they can remove the tint and have a clear visor.100_4070 100_4071

Like eyeglasses, visors get scratched over time. As such, they are changed often. Like most other items racing teams and drivers use, when they are no longed needed, they are sold to the general public. They are frequently autographed by drivers, and are a popular item to get signed by drivers. They are interesting to look at, and interesting to examine up-close. All helmet visors in this day in age have a sponsor stripe across the top, and we’ll cover that next week.

Paint Scheme Reviews

Danica Patrick #10 Go Daddy Chevy SS Pinkwashing is an automatic F

Greg Biffle #16 Sherwin Williams Ford Fusion See Above

Tony Raines #40 Moon Shine Attitude Attire Chevy SS See Above

and we have a new 2014 scheme

Kasey Kahne #5 Farmers Insurance Chevy SS It’s amazing what a different shade of paint can do to a paint scheme. This years Farmer’s scheme earned a D+ because of the primary color, this scheme earns a B+ because of the color. The design needs some work, but the whole scheme is a major improvement.