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Question: Please describe what a HANS device is, how it functions, and its history. Please be descriptive, engaging, and explain your response as if your audience is composed of fans of Motorsport.
Hello Motorsport fans, sit down and strap in as we journey through the fascinating world of motorsports safety technology. Now, picture the high-speed, adrenaline thrill of a race track. Engine roaring, crowd cheering, and the ease of the driver, one-handing their way to the finish line. A pulsating scene, but also, a potential danger zone. But, worry not, because this is where the hero of our story – the HANS (Head-and-Neck-Support) device – comes into play. The HANS device is synonymous with safety in the world of motorsports. The technology, as the name suggests, is designed to safeguard the driver's head and neck in high-impact situations, by managing energy transfer and reducing the risk of injury. The HANS device, which looks like a collar strapped to a pair of wings, is worn over the driver’s shoulders and secured by the safety harness. The “wings” extend beyond the head, providing anchors for the helmet, connected via straps. These straps significantly decrease the forward motion of an unrestrained head during an impact, thereby reducing the likelihood of spinal injuries and basilar skull fractures, the latter being a sadly frequent cause of death in motorsports. The history of the HANS device dates back to the 1980s when the high-speed nature of motorsport became significantly more lethal. Notably, it was developed by Dr. Robert Hubbard, a professor of biomechanical engineering at Michigan State University who, along with his brother-in-law, Jim Downing, a champion race car driver, realized the need for additional safety measures in the sport. It was born out of loss, in the aftermath of a fatal accident involving a mutual friend who suffered a basilar skull fracture. Initially, the HANS device wasn't popular. Many drivers felt it was uncomfortable or restrictive. Moreover, it was hard for them to change decades of habit and add a new element to their safety routine. However, after the tragically fatal accidents of NASCAR drivers Kenny Irwin Jr. and Adam Petty in 2000, followed by the loss of Dale Earnhardt in 2001, NASCAR mandated the use of HANS devices in 2001. The HANS device went from being an optional item to a requirement in motorsports. Today, no driver would think twice about using one. It's a silent, unassuming piece of technology that has undeniably saved countless lives on the racing circuits. So, to all the motorsports fans out there, the next time you watch a race, and you see your favorite driver stepping into a vehicle, remember the silent guardian – the HANS device, invisibly sitting on their shoulders, safeguarding them as they aim for the checkered flag.
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