In its earliest iterations, motor racing fans turned their nose up at the Formula 1 halo or IndyCar aeroscreen protective cockpit devices.
The detractors bemoaned its looks, which stuck out like a sore thumb against the precisely carved curves of the chassis and wings.
However, the devices continue to prove their worth.
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The Formula 1 halo creates a titanium roll cage of sorts around the head of the driver, anchored by three points around the head.
The aeroscreen combines a halo-style titanium roll cage and a wrap-around polycarbonate screen, designed to prevent debris from entering the cockpit.
The opening race of the IndyCar season demonstrated the aeroscreen’s worth when series debutant Benjamin Pedersen t-boned Devlin DeFrancesco at high speed.
The contact sent DeFrancesco up the nose, over the top of Pedersen’s aeroscreen, and into the air.
IndyCar goes flying in terrifying crash
Both DeFrancesco and Pedersen were uninjured and able to walk away from the incident.
IndyCar president Jay Frye posted a video of Pedersen’s wrecked car in the aftermath, showing damage to the aeroscreen (below).
DeFrancesco wrote on Twitter, “I need to say thank you to IndyCar for the aeroscreen today and for making sure our cars are safe!”
Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles added, “IndyCar makes constant safety improvements – always has.
“But the aeroscreen effort by Jay Frye and the team is a huge safety step that is in the same category as Tony George’s early investment in and focus on SAFER walls. BIG difference makers.”
Among those caught up in the melee was Helio Castroneves.
He and Meyer Shank Racing teammate Simon Pagenaud were taken out in the pile-up.
“I got turned around and next thing I saw, a car flying over,” the four-time Indianapolis 500 winner explained.
“Thank god we have the halo, or the aeroscreen, which is phenomenal safety standards by IndyCar.
“I’m so happy that for the amount of crash that we had there for me and everyone coming out without any issues, big kudos to IndyCar.”
A new second-generation aeroscreen is reportedly in development. The first iteration weighed in at 23kg but is expected to drop to a little under 16kg.
The first race of the year was won by Marcus Ericsson, who snatched victory from Pato O’Ward with a pass just a few laps shy of the finish.
The IndyCar Series returns for round two at Texas Motor Speedway on April 3.
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