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Motorsports Venue - HPD Wins Schwitzer Award

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INDIANAPOLIS, May 20, 2011: James Goodloe, Roger Griffiths, Marcelo Martinelli and Robert Bell of Honda Performance Development (HPD) received the 45th annual BorgWarner Louis Schwitzer Award on May 20 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for their development of the Honda Refueling Safety Interlock System.

The Honda Refueling Safety Interlock System prevents a racing car from leaving its pit with the refueling hose attached.

Presented to engineers by engineers, the Louis Schwitzer Award rewards individuals with the courage and conviction to explore and develop new concepts in racing technology. BorgWarner sponsors this prestigious $10,000 award, which is presented by the Indiana Section of SAE International. The winners' names are added to the Schwitzer trophy on permanent display at the IMS Hall of Fame Museum.

The award was initiated in 1967 to recognize automotive pioneer Louis Schwitzer.

HPD began development of the Honda Refueling Safety Interlock System in 2008 following several similar incidents in both the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and IZOD IndyCar Series when drivers attempted to leave their pits with the hoses connected, leading to fuel spills and injuries.

As a result, HPD began work on a system to prevent this situation from occurring in the future. A prototype system was installed and tested on a 2009 ALMS LMP1 prototype sports car but it was not used in competition because of sensor reliability concerns. Once HPD had addressed those concerns, an improved system was installed and tested in a Dallara IndyCar chassis from late-2009 through 2010.

When the system's reliability and functionality were proven to the satisfaction of INDYCAR and its teams, the system was made mandatory for the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series.

The heart of the Honda Refueling Safety Interlock System is an off-the-shelf LED photoelectric sensor, reworked by HPD to improve its reliability, heat-resistance, and general suitability for motorsports.

It is installed in the Dallara IndyCar chassis adjacent to the fuel receiver "buckeye" and is connected to the chassis wiring loom. When the probe on the end of the refueling hose is inserted into the buckeye, the sensor detects the probe and sends a signal to the Engine Control Unit (ECU). Using system-specific software, the ECU then sends a message to the Gearbox Control Unit (GCU) to select and/or hold the gearbox in neutral until the sensor detects that the probe has been removed from the buckeye.

Once the probe has been removed, the driver can select first gear, and the car can safely leave its pit. The software has the capability to illuminate a light on the car's dashboard to advise the driver when the system is activated.