Honda announced at St. Petersburg today that it has introduced a new refueling safety interlock system for IndyCar racing. Developed by Honda Performance Development, the system is designed to reduce the potential for pit fires and injuries resulting from drivers leaving their pit boxes with refueling equipment still attached in the IZOD IndyCar Series – a cause of many fires in the past.
HPD has developed a new, interconnected system that includes a fuel-probe sensor and corresponding electronics in the engine and gearbox control units. The system prevents first gear from being engaged in the paddle shift system while the refueling hose is still attached to the car in the pit lane.
“Every year, as a result of human error or mechanical malfunction, there are instances of drivers leaving their pit boxes while the refueling hose is still attached to the car,” said Roger Griffiths, technical director at HPD. “All of these incidents create the potential for a fire in the pits and injuries to the driver, crew members, or others in the pit-lane area.
“It was just such an incident – one that resulted in serious injuries during an American Le Mans Series race in 2008 – that led to the development of this system. The system has been in development at HPD since 2009 for use in both the IZOD IndyCar Series and endurance sports car racing. We're very pleased to be introducing it here at St. Petersburg.”
At the heart of the system is a new fuel-probe electronic sensor, installed in the refueling “buckeye” or inlet valve on an IndyCar chassis. When the sensor detects a connection between the pit-lane refueling nozzle and the buckeye, software in the ECU signals the GCU to place, or hold, the transmission in neutral, and prevents the driver from driving off before the refueling hose is detached from the car.
The system has been repeatedly tested during IZOD IndyCar Series practice sessions and test days to address potential reliability issues, while HPD engineers worked to incorporate the new feature into the Honda Indy V8-powered Dallara chassis currently used by all teams in the series.
Honda is providing every team in the IZOD IndyCar Series with this important safety device, free of charge, and will provide its design, free of charge, to other racing series that request the device.