Joe Gibbs Racing visits Virginia Tech Helmet Lab

BLACKSBURG, Va. – A team from Joe Gibbs Racing visited the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab to see how they could implement the lab’s practices into their upcoming facility in North Carolina.

“Today we are hoping to learn more about the interesting research going on in the different labs here,” said Melissa Boswell, the director of bioengineering at Joe Gibbs Team and Performance Institute.

Boswell said the goals of the groups are extremely similar.

“The goal of our institute is to optimize human performance and hopefully reduce the likelihood of injury,” Boswell said.

Virginia Tech’s Helmet Lab started back in 2011. Now in 2023, the lab is known for conducting research on football, hockey, and bicycle helmets, and having a comprehensive list of the safest helmets on the market.

Boswell said even though the sports are different, the research still applies.

“Even though we are working on slightly different problems, I think our goals of improving performance or reducing injury align with the ongoing research and engineering at Virginia Tech,” said Boswell.

Boswell also said their research will include studying the safety of pit crews.

“When we think about safety in NASCAR, we often think about the drivers,” said Boswell. “Interestingly, the human performance institute was started up by looking at the safety and optimization of performance of the pit crew athletes.”

Mark Begonia, the director of testing for the helmet lab, said the research and methods could translate to NASCAR.

“Maybe some of the same approaches that go into the development of certain one-use style helmets, like snow sports and cycling, would also go into the development of a NASCAR helmet,” Begonia said.

Officials from Joe Gibbs Racing said their research lab is in its last stages of construction. They said they are hoping to recruit some Virginia Tech Students for internships.

About the Author:

Thomas grew up right here in Roanoke and is a graduate of Salem High School and Virginia Tech.