The Humpy Bumper


  • Foam in the front ends? The smaller fuel cells being used are packed in the regular-sized containers but are padded with Stabilized Aluminum Foam, which could be seen in the front of cars in the future to help dissipate the deadly forces in a crash. Jim Hunter, a NASCAR vice president, says this could be the first stage of using the energy-absorbing product elsewhere in the cars. "It's a good opportunity to try it," Hunter said. Hunter also said that tests of a SAFER barrier that could be used on high-banked walls and on corners with a short radius would take place sometime next month. The energy-absorbing barrier has been installed only along the outside wall of the four corners at Indianapolis and the inside walls in turns 1 and 4 at Talladega.(Roanoke Times)(10-6-2002)

  • and whatever happened to....the Humpy Bumper: Lately, talk of the "Humpy Bumper," has lost a little bit steam, but in a column, Humpy Wheeler uses his monthly column to update the fans about where development stands. Work continues to proceed on it, but part of Lew Composites, the primary manufacturer of the bumper, is in the process of being sold. Wheeler has met with the potential new owners and they're excited about getting into this project and progressing it further. Wheeler's role in the development of the bumper was simply inspirational and he challenged Paul Lew to build it. Well, Paul has since left Lew Composites, and that really stalled the bumper's development.(see full story at

  • Wheeler defends the Bumper: Lowe's Motor Speedway president H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler took issue Thursday with NASCAR's comments regarding the so-called "Humpy Bumper," an energy-absorbing bumper designed by Lew Composites of Las Vegas. The bumper, which would fit on the front of NASCAR race cars, is made of a composite material called directional carbon fiber. "With all due respect to NASCAR's `experts,' we obviously need to do a better job of explaining how this energy-absorbing bumper works," Wheeler said. "The difficulty in understanding this bumper is that it is made of directional carbon fiber. "Only five percent of all carbon fiber usage is directional. Therefore, only those who work closely with it really understand its remarkable ability to redirect energy." Wheeler also took issue with statements from Pyne that testing conducted with the bumper had not been done at speeds close to those in accidents that have killed five stock car drivers over the past 17 months. "While some tests were run at slower speeds, most were in the proper range. The crash test at Charlotte, witnessed by the media, was at a wall speed in excess of 40 mph, similar to Dale Earnhardt's accident," Wheeler said. Wheeler said he hoped NASCAR officials and Lew and his associates could meet to help establish "better communication" regarding the bumper(That's Racin')(10-19-2001)

  • NASCAR: No to Humpy this point: The energy-absorbing bumper nicknamed the "Humpy Bumper" is not close to being approved for use in NASCAR because of inadequate testing and concerns about the material used in its construction, NASCAR officials said Wednesday. "The data that is available and testing that has been done do not allow us to draw any conclusions that are meaningful because of speed at which the tests have been done will not allow us to," said George Pyne, NASCAR senior vice president.(more at That's Racin')(10-18-2001)

  • Humpy Bumper News: Paul Lew, President of Lew Composites said, "Lew Composites' officials had a meeting with NASCAR officials (last) Sunday morning at Lowe's Motor Speedway before the Winston Cup race. We agreed to work together in determining the next step with the "Humpy" Bumper. I see this as a very good sign in communications because up until now the communication was not very good. We agreed to convene at a future date yet to be determined with a group of experts and peers, and discuss the bumper device Lew Composites has created. Encouraged, Paul added, "It's my belief that NASCAR has had a concern for safety first and we hope to be a big contributor to their campaign of creating a safer race car." See full column at Catchfence: NASCAR, Lew Composites Agree To Work Together On Next Step Of Bumper(10-12-2001)

  • Humpy Upset: Reacting angrily to Thursday's racing crash that killed driver Blaise Alexander, Lowe's Motor Speedway president H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler said he's "sick" of waiting for safety changes in stock-car racing. "Action has to be taken quickly because this could happen again tomorrow, it could happen Sunday, it could happen next week," said Wheeler. "It has just got to stop." Wheeler has unsuccessfully pushed to add energy-absorbing bumpers to stock cars to reduce the impact of violent crashes. "I have lost patience with the people in this industry who are dragging their feet," he said. "I'm sick of it." Preliminary autopsy results show Alexander, 25, of Mooresville, died from a skull fracture similar to those that killed Dale Earnhardt and at least four other NASCAR drivers in the past 17 months..(That's Racin')(10-6-2001)

  • Lew Comments: Coomets from Paul Lew, President of Lew Composites, maker of the "Humpy Bumper" following the Thursday evening death of ARCA driver Blaise Alexander at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "I and every one here at Lew Composites send our heart felt sympathy to the Alexander family because we are very passionate about motorsports and we have several engineers here who are personal friends of Blaise. If this (Alexander's death from a right frontal impact) doesn't make NASCAR approve the bumper, then they are acting irresponsibly because (the use of the bumper) would greatly swing the driver's odds of survival in his favor." See more at Catchfence(10-6-2001)

  • NASCAR/Humpy Meeting Postponed: Humpy Wheeler said a meeting scheduled for this week with NASCAR officials about the energy-absorbing front bumper he's involved with was postponed. Series officials requested more data and it took longer than anticipated to get that information, Wheeler said. "Hopefully, we'll meet next week," Wheeler said.(Roanoke Times)(9-7-2001)

  • NASCAR: The Humpy Bumper by Floyd Tilton(9-1-2001)

  • Indianapolis Star: Safety may get bumped up by Curt Cavin(9-1-2001)

  • Orlando Sentinel: Not all hail the Humpy by Ed Hinton(8-30-2001)

  • No Humpy Bumper this season: A top NASCAR official all but ruled out Wednesday the possibility of the so-called "Humpy Bumper" or any other energy-absorbing bumper being installed in Winston Cup stock cars this season. "That is just unrealistic, not realistic at all," said Jim Hunter, a NASCAR vice president. The response came a day after developers of the energy-absorbing bumper staged a demonstration at Lowe's Motor Speedway outside Charlotte, and before meeting next week with NASCAR officials to discuss research and test results.( full story at CNN/SI)(8-30-2001)

  • Humpy Bumper News UPDATE 2 Testing at LMS today: Development of the energy-absorbing "Humpy Bumper," which is being tested by Las Vegas-based Lew Composites, will continue despite ominous remarks by NASCAR president Mike Helton during Tuesday's press conference to announce the findings of a six-month investigation into the death of Dale Earnhardt. Paul Lew, president of Lew Composites and one of the designers of the "Humpy Bumper," told the Sun last week that he anticipated the device would be approved by NASCAR and could be used on Winston Cup cars in race conditions "in the month of September." After watching Tuesday's announcement, Lew said his project would proceed as planned. Lew has a public test of the device scheduled for next Tuesday at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. At that time, Winston Cup teams will have a chance to see the bumper perform in a crash test. H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president and chief operating officer of Speedway Motorsports, Inc., and the person for whom the "Humpy Bumper" is named, said he hopes the device will be approved by NASCAR and available to teams by the end of the season.(Las Vegas Sun)(8-23-2001)
    UPDATE: H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, president and general manager of Lowe’s Motor Speedway, and Paul Lew of Lew Composites will be on hand to oversee a full-scale crash test of the energy-absorbing composite device nicknamed the “Humpy Bumper” on Tuesday, Aug. 28 starting at 1:30pm/et. The composite bumper will be fitted on a NASCAR Winston Cup stock car that is then propelled into the turn one wall at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Media members will be able to inspect the car following the crash test and parties involved in the bumper’s design and construction will be available for interviews. This crash will be the final step in a series of extensive tests that began in May and data and information from those earlier tests will be available(Lowes Motor Speedway PR).(8-24-2001)
    UPDATE 2: In a demonstration staged largely for the media, the focus wasn't on a test car circling the track, but rather purposely taking a violent, right front hit into the wall at Lowe's Motor Speedway. The car was a white Chevrolet Monte Carlo. The wall speed was extremely high, near 40 miles an hour, or about the same as experienced in Dale Earnhardt's crash during the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 18. The damage to the test car, though, didn't appear as severe as might be expected -- presumably, thanks to a "Humpy Bumper," an impact-absorbing device installed in the nose between the radiator and motor. The wall failed to devour the front of the car. The motor remained firmly attached. It was a flawless demonstration, if you overlook the car bouncing off the wall, redirecting itself down the embankment and forcing several onlookers to scramble frantically out of its way. Las Vegas-based engineer Paul Lew (of Lew Composites), the mind behind the project, says the bumper can cut in half the energy drivers' absorb in a crash. Lowe's president/general manager H. A. "Humpy" Wheeler says the safety device is ready for use today, adding, "What we're talking about here is saving lives."(see full story at CNN/SI - Test crash - 'Humpy Bumper' has flawless demonstration; AND Researchers tested the energy-absorbing Humpy Bumper on Tuesday by sending a remote-controlled Winston Cup car crashing into a wall as a NASCAR official watched. All indications were that the test at Lowe's Motor Speedway was a success, but the damage and data from a "black box" inside the car still must be analyzed. Humpy Wheeler, president of the speedway, said he would meet with NASCAR next week to discuss the results. "It's up to NASCAR from here," Wheeler said. "They'll look at what we have and either say, 'We like it, go ahead and start manufacturing it' or, 'We'd like for you to look at it further with some more tests.' "Ideally, they'll like it and we can get it on the cars as soon as possible." The Humpy Bumper is designed to address concerns about the rigidity of the front of stock cars and the lack of any sort of bumper to absorb the energy from a crash. The stiffness in the cars has been an issue the past year because of the deaths of Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin and Dale Earnhardt in wrecks. The cars have grown increasingly rigid over the years because it allows crew chiefs to accurately make suspension settings.(See full story at ESPN: NASCAR official watched test)(8-28-2001)

  • Humpy Bumper in Final Stages of Testing UPDATE 3: A new safety bumper designed to help absorb the energy of a frontal impact is in the final stages of testing and could be available for drivers before the end of the current Winston Cup season. Manufacturers of the so-called "Humpy Bumper," the brainchild of Lowe's Motor Speedway president H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, are hopeful of receiving NASCAR approval soon after the completion of six crash tests scheduled later this month at the Charlotte racing facility. The final test, Aug. 28, will be open to the public. "NASCAR has been a great partner in helping us develop this," said Paul Lew, a Las Vegas-based composite materials design engineer and manufacturer working with Wheeler. The safety bumper has tested extraordinarily well, Lew said, in computer simulation and barrier testing, adding that the final hurdle is the crash tests in Charlotte.(CNN/SI)
    UPDATE: hearing they are testing the Humpy Bumper at Las Vegas Motor Speedway today(8-16-2001)
    UPDATE 2: The developer of an energy-absorbing bumper said Thursday he anticipates NASCAR approving the safety device within two weeks. "We're working very closely with NASCAR and we're in the final stages right now," said Paul Lew, a Las Vegas-based composite materials engineer, designer and manufacturer. Lew said the 16-pound bumper, priced at $6,000, has gone through computer simulation testing, crash testing in a facility and crash testing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Lew said he would not reveal any data until an Aug.28 news conference where a stock car with the bumper will be crash tested at Lowe's Motor Speedway.(Roanoke Times)(8-17-2001)
    UPDATE 3: Having completed three days of closed testing this week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Paul Lew is confident his new energy-absorbing "Humpy Bumper" will be affixed to the front ends of NASCAR Winston Cup cars by next month. Lew, president of the Las Vegas-based Lew Composites, said this week's round of testing confirmed that the device will decrease the G-forces a driver is subjected to in head-on and near head-on crashes -- such as those that killed NASCAR drivers Dale Earnhardt, Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin and Tony Roper. A final, public test on Aug. 28, which originally had been planned for Las Vegas Motor Speedway, has been moved to Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., and will be attended by NASCAR race team officials and the media. Humpy Wheeler, after whom the "Humpy Bumper" is named, is president of Lowe's Motor Speedway and it is believed the test was moved to that track in deference to Wheeler.(Las Vegas Sun)(8-18-2001)

  • CNN/SI: Humpin' to please - New bumper design entering final stages of testing by Mike Fish(8-16-2001)

  • Humpy Bumper News: The Buzz has learned that the "Humpy Bumper" may begin actual car crash testing in the next week or two. Developed by Paul Lew of Lew Composites of Las Vegas and being promoted along by H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler of Lowe's Motor Speedway(LMS), the bumper made of carbon fiber is designed to absorb frontal impact. Testing on a computer has already been done, but this will be the first time it is actually attached to a race car where it will be propelled against a wall. Once that test is completed, another one may be conducted at LMS soon after.( Buzz)(8-6-2001)

  • Humpy Bumper News UPDATE: The "Humpy Bumper," an energy-absorbing safety device that was conceived and developed in Las Vegas, could be on the front ends of Winston Cup cars by the end of next month, according to one of its designers. Jason Schiers, vice president of Las Vegas-based Lew Composites, said the company soon will conduct one final test of the Humpy Bumper for Winston Cup teams at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and then will begin producing the devices for interested teams. Schiers said the on-track crash test would be more of a marketing tool than an actual data-collecting exercise. Lew Composites already has turned over to NASCAR data from earlier computer simulations and sled crash tests conducted at the University of Daytona Research institute and General Motors. "NASCAR understands the quality of the product and have pretty much given us a green light to put the product on the cars." Schiers said. Although NASCAR will not mandate the use of the Humpy Bumper, it has told the company that it won't prevent teams from using the device in competition. The Humpy Bumper was designed by Lew Composites founder and president Paul Lew along with Schiers and Ted Love. The device, which is expected to sell for about $6,000, will be produced at the company's plant at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Research and Development Park. Made of a space-age unidirectional graphite fiber, the bumper has proven to lessen the impact on drivers during head-on and near head-on crashes, and will reduce the types of head and neck injuries that killed NASCAR drivers Dale Earnhardt, Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin and Tony Roper, Schiers said.(Las Vegas Sun)(7-13-2001)
    UPDATE: Winston Cup series director Gary Nelson said he hasn't seen much testing data on the new "Humpy Bumper," a front-bumper device made of a unidirectional graphite fiber that is designed to lessen the impact on drivers during head-on and near head-on crashes. The bumper, developed by Lew Composites of Las Vegas, has undergone computer simulations and sled-crash tests at the University of Dayton Research institute and General Motors. Officials at Lew said they recently turned over data on the testing to NASCAR. "Typically, what NASCAR does is not say much about projects in the development stages, and obviously that one is in the development stage," Nelson said. "Like a doctor, you don't want to prescribe medicine that could cause further problems, so we feel like we have a responsibility to the competitors. "Before we would mandate something, we want to make sure it doesn't cause more problems. This is one of many projects in the development stages." Nelson said it was too early to tell if the device, which costs about $6,000, would be mandated, available for teams to use at their discretion, or perhaps not be approved for us at all.(That's Racin')(7-15-2001)

  • No To The Humpy Bumper? UPDATE 5 More Testing in Detroit: NASCAR officials are saying "no way" to Humpy Wheeler's crushable "Humpy Bumper," a $6,000 piece of composite materials designed to bolt into the nose of a Winston Cup car and provide more cushion in a crash(Winston Salem Journal)(5-28-2001)
    UPDATE: Contrary to a report in the Winston-Salem Journal, H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president and general manager, said NASCAR officials were very receptive to the new frontal impact safety device, nicknamed the Humpy Bumper, developed by Lew Composites and are anxiously waiting to review the data from sled crash tests that will be performed by General Motors. Also, Mr. Wheeler participated in the Speedway Motorsports sanction meetings with NASCAR officials and said NASCAR never suggested that one of the Atlanta Winston Cup dates be moved to Texas as was reported by the Winston-Salem Journal(LMS PR)
    UPDATE 2: Following extensive discussions with NASCAR officials during The Winston and Coca-Cola 600 weekends at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler said today testing is continuing on the frontal impact absorption system, nicknamed the “Humpy Bumper,” that was developed by Paul Lew of Lew Composites. “They are at the University of Dayton this week doing computer simulation testing,” Wheeler noted. “Then, next week they are scheduled to sled test it at General Motors’ facility. From there they will go to the Lockheed wind tunnel to examine its aerodynamic effect on the car. “After all that testing is complete, they plan to do two remote crash tests of Winston Cup cars fitted with the bumper at as-yet-undetermined speedways,” Wheeler continued. Wheeler emphasized NASCAR officials met with him and Lew, head of Las Vegas-based Lew Composites, and are completely aware of the testing that is taking place. “NASCAR officials have been very cooperative,” Wheeler continued. “In fact, there is some specific testing data they want to see and we are complying with their request.” Wheeler said once the testing is complete and the impact absorption system is approved for competition, Lew Composites can build 45 units in 30 days. The unit’s super high-tech production process, known as “3D/DL” (three-dimensional/directional laminate), produces a structure that weighs only 16 pounds, will cost less than $6,000 per unit to manufacture and can be made to sacrifice itself when acted on by a pre-determined amount of force.(LMS PR)(5-30-2001)
    UPDATE 3: the Winston Salem Journal reports - NASCAR executives are privately writing off Humpy Wheeler's latest safety innovation, the 'Humpy Bumper,' a specially designed 16-pound composite bumper that bolts on to a Winston Cup or Busch car. Wheeler, however, is going ahead with more testing. The bumper, designed by Paul Lew, is undergoing computer simulations at the University of Dayton this week, and next week it's headed for sled testing at GM, and then to Lockheed for wind tunnel studies. Following all that Wheeler says the bumper will be crash-tested. The $6,000 bumper, Lew says, is a directional laminate, meaning the force of the impact is absorbed through the structure in a predetermined road map(Winston Salem Journal), of note, during an RPM 2Night (ESPN2) show this week, Lew was quoted as saying the bumper would cost less then the $6,000 originally mentioned(6-2-2001)
    UPDATE 4: it was reported on Fox's pre-race show, that the 'Humpy Bumper' would undergo more testing this week in Detroit, MI and that NASCAR has been invited and that representatives plans to attend the test(6-3-2001)
    UPDATE 5: FSN's Totally NASCAR reports that testing on the 'Humpy Bumper' will begin tomorrow (Wed June 13th) and that NASCAR representatives will attend on Thursday(6-12-2001)

  • Speedway Illustrated: The Humpy Bumper by Tom Hintz(5-19-2001)

  • Absorption System for Cars UPDATE 4: Speedway Motorsports Inc. president H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, with assistance from others in the motorsports industry, has been working over the past several months on developing an impact absorption system for NASCAR race cars and plans to present it to the public within the next two weeks. The system would utilize a yet-to-be-named material to be placed in the front end of cars to help absorb the energy of a frontal impact. Winston Cup series director Gary Nelson said Saturday that NASCAR has been involved in a project of its own regarding a front-end impact absorption system, as well as additional testing of new "soft wall" technology. Wheeler, who hopes to display his work before the May 19 Winston all-star race at Lowe's Motor Speedway, said he is excited the prospects of his project. See full story at That's Racin'(5-6-2001)
    UPDATE: Humpy Wheeler, president and general manager of Lowe's Motor Speedway, says he plans to unveil an impact absorption system for stock cars next week. "I think that's what these cars really need, the ability to absorb more shock when they hit the wall, particularly the right front," Wheeler said Tuesday during a break in NASCAR testing at the 1.5-mile speedway. NASCAR's four deaths in the last year all came in frontal impacts with the vehicles mainly striking the wall with the right front. Questions have been raised that the front of the car is too rigid and that energy in a crash is transferred from the car to the driver, causing serious injuries in some cases. Indy cars absorb energy by having pieces fly off during a crash. Wheeler said his system is more complicated because there is more frontal area on a stock car than an Indy car. Wheeler says the system is being computer tested and then will be sled tested. "We need to eliminate totally the lethal part of this sport, and that's what everybody's objective should be," he said. "If it isn't, they need to change their objective. I don't think we'll ever eliminate injury because this is a contact, high-speed sport, but I do think we can eliminate the lethal part of it."(Roanoke Times )(5-9-2001)
    UPDATE 2: H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, president and general manager of Lowe’s Motor Speedway, and representatives of Lew Composites will be on hand to unveil a new safety concept Wednesday, May 16, at 2:00 p.m. in the Winston Cup garage area at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The new safety concept, which can be adapted to virtually any type of full-bodied racing car, is designed to absorb energy during a frontal impact, thus reducing the G forces a driver sustains(LMS PR)(5-15-2001)
    UPDATE 3: New safety technology, potentially life-saving for stock-car drivers in frontal collisions with concrete walls, could be installed in NASCAR cars within a month. Engineers are working to develop crushable materials that would act as high-impact padding inside the fronts of the cars, and the findings potentially could radically reduce, if not eliminate, the need for energy-dissipating "soft walls." Humpy Wheeler will unveil a test project using carbon fiber composite materials today at his company's Lowe's Motor Speedway. The material could be installed in Winston Cup cars by June, Wheeler said. More promising long range is a material called stabilized aluminum foam, tested at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and being developed for racing by Canadian-based Cymat Corp. Project manager George Daszkowski said the earliest his company's "crash box" could go into use would be by next February's Daytona 500. See the Orlando Sentinel for more on this story and an image of how it works(5-16-2001)
    UPDATE 4 - the Humpy Bumper: In an effort to address growing safety concerns about Winston Cup and BGN race cars, Wheeler on Wednesday unveiled a new bumper-like safety device he hopes will diminish driver impact in a high-speed frontal wreck. Several months ago, Wheeler approached Paul Lew, a Las Vegas-based engineer, designer and manufacturer in composite materials. Wheeler said he was looking for something that would help absorb the energy of a frontal impact, but still fit under the skin of a NASCAR stock car with minimum modifications. The result of Lew's work was displayed Wednesday - a bumper-like unit called the "Humpy Bumper" that would fit neatly in the front of the car, just as a bumper in a passenger car does. The device weighs 16 pounds and would cost approximately $6,000 per unit to manufacture. It is designed to absorb the energy of 20- to 30-degree frontal impacts. The bumper will break under certain force, but would also withstand the common bumps and rigors of normal racing. Wheeler said Wednesday NASCAR officials were sent plans of an early version of the project and are welcome to examine it at any time. Winston Cup series director Gary Nelson was unavailable for comment Wednesday, but when told earlier this month about the project, he said NASCAR was working in a similar area and was involved in additional "soft-wall" technology. See full story and quotes atThat's Racin' and more at the Lowes Motor Speedway site, including Diagram - Revolutionary Racing Safety Device Unveiled, and also at including some pictures: Wheeler unveils bumper system to improve safety (5-17-2001)

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