Flat Spot On: Melvin Was A Cockpit Safety Guru
John Melvin, right, was in the business of saving lives. (Photo courtesy of Stand 21)
By Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer
For a long time established professionals were not welcome in U.S. motor racing. Lawyers were despised due to racing’s vulnerability to the issues of liability and doctors were often feared – if a driver met one in the line of work it probably wasn’t a good thing. Engineers such as John Melvin who talked about safety initially fell into a similar category of not exactly welcome.
Before Melvin began his engineering research, racers depended on their own ideas, often wrong, when it came to individual safety equipment. They sometimes relied on self-appointed safety experts who also happened to be in the business of selling equipment.
Melvin, who died of a heart attack last week, succeeded because he kept diligently building on his own carefully constructed body of work and quietly sharing it behind the scenes even if his advice wasn’t always acted on or well received. Eventually, when the going got tough and sanctioning bodies recognized a need for the right answers, Melvin’s diligent work paid off and his research helped form the fundamental gospel of cockpit safety in all forms of motor racing. Not surprisingly, his death brought tributes from not only the U.S. but the international racing community as well.
For a journalist, Melvin, who held a doctorate in engineering, was not only a credible source, he was readily Read the full story »