Installation of the Steel and Foam Energy Reduction barriers, known in the motorsports industry as SAFER barriers, is underway at Charlotte Motor Speedway and work will be completed in time for the track's May NASCAR events.

The SAFER barriers, which utilize foam blocks positioned behind rolled steel tubing for a total thickness of 30 inches, will cover approximately 6,150-linear feet of concrete walls around the 1.5-mile, high-banked superspeedway.

As the most extensive installation of the SAFER barriers to date at any speedway, the Lowe¿s Motor Speedway project will include placing the energy-absorbing barriers in front of approximately 4,000 feet of outside retaining walls in the turns; 1,351 feet along the frontstretch quad-oval; and 796 feet on the insides of Turns 2 and 4.

SAFER barriers were first installed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which initiated their development in cooperation with the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility at the University of Nebraska. NASCAR joined IMS in the project and has worked closely with Dr. Dean Sicking in adapting the barrier system for installation at other NASCAR-sanctioned race tracks.

¿I applaud the efforts of everyone involved with the evolution of the SAFER barriers, especially Dean Sicking and his group of engineers,¿ said H.A. ¿Humpy¿ Wheeler, president of Lowe¿s Motor Speedway. ¿I am delighted we will have the system in place for our May events and thank Dean and his staff for helping expedite this project.

¿NASCAR is to be commended for its on-going safety efforts,¿ said Wheeler. ¿Great strides have been made by mandating head-and-neck restraints, improving driver seats and now installing energy-reducing wall barriers.¿

Recent crash testing showed that the SAFER barriers can reduce lateral g-forces by as much as 75 percent. The testing also indicated that driver risk, measured in terms of head injury criteria and maximum neck tension, can be reduced by as much as 70 percent.

Materials for the SAFER barriers were ordered Monday and are expected to arrive for installation on April 22. Speedway officials estimate the installation will take approximately three weeks to complete. A majority of the work will be performed at night to minimize the impact to the speedway¿s track rental customers.

Lowe¿s Motor Speedway¿s May racing schedule includes the Infineon 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race and qualifying for the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge on Friday, May 21. The 20th edition of the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge follows on Saturday, May 22. CTC Pole Night qualifying for the Coca-Cola 600 is scheduled for Thursday night, May 27, with the CARQUEST Auto Parts 300 NASCAR Busch Series race set for Saturday, May 29. The Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race completes the schedule on Sunday evening, May 30.