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April 9, 2024

Motorsports Hall of Fame pays tribute to Robert Hubbard

Spartan Engineer revolutionized racing safety with HANS device

Robert Hubbard
Robert Hubbard joined MSU in 1977 and remained at the university until his retirement in 2006. His research is credited for making professional auto racing safer. 

The late Robert "Bob" Hubbard, a Michigan State University mechanical engineering professor emeritus, is one of the newest inductees to the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.

Hubbard was a College of Engineering professor at MSU from 1977 to 2006. He died in 2019. 

The MHFA named Hubbard to its 2024 Class during a March 12 Motorsports Hall of Fame of America ceremony in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Hubbard, a biomechanical engineer, and Jim Downing, Hubbard’s brother-in-law, developed what’s known as the Head and Neck Support device, or HANS, in the mid-1980s. 

Downing was also named to the MHFA in March. 

Hubbard's accomplishments were featured Monday, April 8 in a story posted on The Shop, a website for vehicle performance, restyling and customization professionals.

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The HANS device was created when Downing and Hubbard realized that drivers were being killed in racing accidents because their heads were not restrained, which led to basilar skull fractures.

The loss of Downing's friend Patrick Jacquemart, who crashed his Renault 5 Turbo in testing at Mid-Ohio in 1981, was the driving force behind their quest for a solution.

Hubbard received the College of Engineering's Distinguished Faculty Award in 2005 and was an active supporter of student learning and research, according to the Lansing State Journal.

He also created a class that brought engineering and marketing students together in the field of biomechanics, the newspaper reported. 

For more on Hubbard's life and accomplishments, check out stories posted on the college's website in 2019 and MSU Today in 2014.

Written by Eric Lacy, See more at the Engineering Media and Public Relations page.