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Tuesday, September 25
Mayfield incident just the latest new services

Bill Simpson says NASCAR's announcement that Jeremy Mayfield's Simpson lap belt was partially torn just adds fuel to the fire. Mayfield crashed in Sunday's MBNA Cal Ripken Jr. 400 at Dover, Del.

"They can put on all the dog-and-pony shows they want," Simpson told the Orlando Sentinel. "I hope they just keep going with it. It's just more food for the lawsuit."

Simpson said he "absolutely positively" plans on suing NASCAR over it's claims regarding Simpson's belts. NASCAR claims a torn belt might have played a role in Dale Earnhardt's death at the Daytona 500, saying a completely separated belt had been found in the car.

Simpson told the paper that Mayfield's belt was "partially torn" but did not separate. The tear was "a quarter of an inch."

NASCAR's news release Monday stated that Mayfield's belt "apparently 'dumped' at some point during the accident. The act of dumping occurs when the seat belt webbing is pulled or moved significantly to one side of the metal adjustment device through which the webbing is threaded."

As part of the Earnhardt investigation report, experts said "dumping" causes inordinate stress to be placed on only part of the webbing, causing the belt to tear. Experts generally believe dumping has nothing to do with quality of belt manufacture.

Mayfield was not seriously injured in Sunday's wreck, although he said he thought he briefly lost consciousness. A blown tire caused Mayfield's crash at Dover. Mayfield was one of several drivers to experience tire problems at the track.

"Why didn't they put out a report about all those tires?" Simpson asked.

NASCAR said it "has outside experts reviewing the damaged belt and plans to offer recommendations to its teams prior to this coming weekend's activities" at the new Kansas Speedway near Kansas City.

"It looks to me like they're up to their old games. And that looks like character assassination to that company (Simpson Performance Products). I don't even work for them anymore," said Simpson, who resigned as chairman of the company in July, citing the duress of being caught in the middle of the Earnhardt controversy.

Simpson maintained, as he has since February, that the problem is with NASCAR's car structure, not safety restraints.

"Until NASCAR goes back to what those cars were two years ago with the soft front ends, they're going to keep having these problems," he said. "And it doesn't really make any difference whose seat belts are in the car or what kind of seats these guys are in.

"Those cars are dangerous the way they are now. I'll go to my grave saying that. They are very dangerous.

"Not only am I saying it, I'm going to prove it. We've been doing a bunch of tests."

Asked when his attorneys, Jim Voyle of Indianapolis and Bob Horn of Jackson Hole, Wyo., planned to file litigation, Simpson would reply only, "Soon."

Dr. Barry Myers of Duke University and two investigation firms retained by Simpson found after reviewing the evidence in Earnhardt's wreck that the separated lap belt did not contribute to his fatal injuries.

Myers was appointed by the Volusia County Circuit Court as an independent expert to review Earnhardt's autopsy photos as part of a settlement between the Orlando Sentinel and Earnhardt's widow, Teresa. The NASCAR-hired biomechanical experts, from Biodynamic Research Corp. of San Antonio, Texas, were not allowed to view the autopsy photos as part of their investigation.

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Seat belt partially tore in Mayfield crash

 Buckle Up
Former president of Simpson Performance Products Bill Simpson speaks with ESPN's John Kernan.
1340 k | RealAudio

Drivers and crew members voice their opinion on their experience with Simpson seat belts.

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