Plastic fantastic solution

By Grace Jones | posted on September 12, 2019

ALBANY inventor Thomas Benson said his newly designed recycled plastic race arrester bales could be a cheaper and more sustainable option for local motor sport events in the future.

Mr Benson said he woke in the middle of the night after the fatal crash of Albany-born Brody Ford during Racewars earlier this year with the thought that there could be an engineering solution to prevent potential accidents in the future.

“I did the maths of what sort of energy would be coming out of a car travelling at that speed and what it would take to stop it,” he said.

“I found out it would take 156,000 joules to stop.

“Really though it’s the distance to stop that counts.”

Mr Benson said plans for the barriers had been sent to the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) to be used at events in the future, but would not be the “panacea of all safety measures”.

“But it will be a damn sight better than ending up in a paddock on fire,” he said.

In a recent City of Albany Special Council meeting it was revealed that the City would spend approximately $20,000 on “in-kind sponsorship” that included road grading at the end of the Albany Regional Airport.

Mr Benson questioned why the City would spend so much money on earthworks when he had a solution available that would be much cheaper.

City Chief Executive Officer Andrew Sharpe responded to Mr Benson’s comments and said the earthworks were not for safety infrastructure at Racewars.

“[He is] confusing safety infrastructure with general maintenance and site works required by the CoA as airport owner to ensure the venue is in good order and prepared to host the event,” he said.

CAMS Chief Executive Officer Eugene Arocca said the motor sport body had received correspondence from Mr Benson in relation to the barriers but had not physically seen a prototype yet.

“They would need further testing and I suspect they haven’t been tested to a CAMS or Fédération Internationale de l’ Automobile level,” he said.

Mr Arocca said while using the barriers would increase the safety for competitors at Racewars he still couldn’t see CAMS sanctioning the event “any time soon”.

“We maintain that a 1000m sprint in a street car just calls for trouble,” he said.

“A distance like that is pretty much drag racing and even then they have proper arrester fencing and beds in place.

“Motorsport calls for proper internal and external safety.”

Racewars event director Jon Murray failed to comment by deadline.