Before the IndyCar season was suspended due to the virus, the biggest story of the 2020 season was the introduction of the aeroscreen. The steeply raked windshield would help protect drivers’ heads from large and small debris, improving safety.
The reduced airflow into the cockpit necessitated the use of forced-air helmets, common in sports car and Nascar racing for years.
Now, the same technology is being used to help patients suffering from covid-19.
Riley Technologies has been racing for almost 20 years. Team principals Bill Riley and his father Bob Riley have designed cars that have won the Indianapolis 500 and earned victories at Daytona. With worldwide motorsports events shutdown, Riley was contacted by the Piedmont Medical Center to ask the team to help engineer and build Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) masks. Being involved in the fast-paced motorsports world, Riley Technologies was able to design and build prototypes very rapidly.
The PAPR design is similar to forced-air blown helmets, and Riley’s in-house carbon fiber composite capability can be utilized to take their motorsports knowledge to help fight the virus through mask production.