The Ryan Bard Safety Foundation
“Flipr” the Rollover Simulator
On October 21st 2007, Ryan Bard of Farmington NM died in a rollover accident and subsequent fire while participating in the Southern Challenge at Abilene Speedway. This premier dirt track event drew competitors from all over the Southwest, and highlighted the “best of the best” in several classes of race cars.
Ryan was the fiancé of Caley Lapaire, daughter of Midstream employee Paul Lapaire. Due to the significance of the event, most of Ryan’s family was there to watch the races, and instead had the horrifying experience of watching the young man’s car flip 3 times and explode into flames as it came to rest on its top. Although many rushed to his aid, they were unable to contain the fire, and he was unable to escape the inferno before being horribly burned. He was airlifted to Dallas, where he passed away.
In the grief-stricken days, months, and now years following Ryan’s death, Paul embarked on a mission to do all he could to prevent this loss from happening to any others in the racing community. With a background as a refinery controls technician, and years of fire and safety training, he joined a movement of concerned and deeply impacted racers and track officials to develop and encourage safety devices for race cars, and promote proper firefighting equipment and techniques at racetracks across the southwest. Paul, and Ryan’s father Terry Bard, discussed ways of raising funds to not only promote safety, but also keep Ryan’s memory alive. Along with designing and marketing a series of beautiful racing-style t shirts, Paul also contacted several local businesses for sponsorships. The name “Ryan Bard Safety Foundation” was decided on, and with the support of many friends and fellow racers, money was raised, and the mission started to take shape.
There were several goals established for these funds:
1. Keep safety on the minds of ALL race participants
2. Provide financial assistance to victims of racing accidents
3. Design, build, and travel with a rollover simulator
4. Train EMS/fire crews in extrication and fire scenarios
5. Work with track officials to ensure proper on-site equipment
6. Provide fire extinguishers and training where needed
When Paul joined the Williams MidStream group in 2008, he approached the Home Grown committee with the request to help subsidize building the rollover device. With Williams’ contribution of $2000, the expert assistance of some local vendors, about $3000 from the Foundation, and many hours of trial and error, “Flipr” rolled to its first exhibition at Fairgrounds Raceway in Cortez, Colorado in the fall of 2009. The device consists of a racecar chassis with the front and rear sections removed, leaving a complete cockpit attached to spindles set in a frame that is mounted to a 16’ trailer. The device rotates in either direction, driven by a hydraulic motor, and controlled by an operator at the front of the trailer. Because it can reverse direction rapidly, it can simulate the violent “shake” of a car as it rolls.
The primary intent of this exercise is to disorient the driver as realistically as possible, then stop the roll and allow the driver to escape the car in any position. The cockpit is typical of most race cars, with full 5-point harness, racing seat, pedals, window net and removable steering wheel. The escape process is timed, with the goal being: out of the car in 10 seconds or less. The 10 second timeframe is based on the rating of most fire suits in use, and has been attained by about 25% of the participants, with many opting to do it again in hope of improving that time.
The secondary intent is the opportunity for discussion and conversation about various safety designs and devices, ways of improving the car interior to facilitate the exit, advantages and disadvantages of what that driver might have in their own car, fire suppression systems, etc.
In the time since the development of this device, Paul and his partners have traveled with “Flipr” in tow to tracks and events in NM, CO, and TX, and OK.
Fairgrounds Raceway, Cortez CO
Aztec Speedway, Aztec NM
Heart of Texas Speedway, Waco TX
85 Speedway, Ennis TX
281 Speedway, Greenvillle TX
Kennedale Motor Speedway, Kennedale TX
RPM Speedway, Crandall TX
Abilene Speedway, Abilene TX
Cowtown Speedway, Kennedale TX
Boyd Raceway, Boyd TX
Rio Grande Speedway, TX
Texas Thunder Speedway, Killeen TX
Elk City Speedway, Elk City OK
Lawton Speedway, Lawton OK
Dallas Trade Show and Auction, Dallas TX
Smiley’s Racing Products, Mesquite TX
RaceLogic Chassis seminars
Harris RaceTechInfo seminars
With the exposure that the Ryan Bard Safety Foundation and “Flipr” are getting, more requests for appearances are coming in, and the racing season looks to be a busy one!
A story about the Foundation has been by Terry Tabor, and published by Three Wide Media in their September ’11 issue of Dirt Modified magazine, with pictures of the rollover machine and comments by Ryan’s’ family and fellow racers. This magazine sells nationally. Paul was recognized as the 2011 recipient of the All American Motorsports Achievement Award for contributions to the racing community.
Racin with Neal caught up with Billy Vest and Dennis Bissonnette in the pits during the Abilene Southern Challenge Ryan Bard Memorial. We wanted to find out more about the new Dirt Defender Wheel Cover Company that the two friends have brought into being. We got a lot of good info from the owners of the new company! Also featured in the video are two well known racers