Legal Issues and Lawsuits and Motorsports and Auto Racing and Law and Sports Business

Impact Racing wins latest court battle over safety labels

June 28, 2010

The latest ruling in a federal court dispute between an industry-certification group and Bill Simpson's Impact Racing LLC prevents the group from immediately severing ties with the Brownsburg-based company.

The June 21 ruling grants Impact Racing’s motion to stop SFI Foundation from terminating Impact’s contract of participation with SFI until it does so in a manner that is “unquestionably substantively rational and procedurally fair,” the court said.

Based in California, SFI is the not-for-profit organization that sets minimum performance standards for motorsports equipment.

It filed a lawsuit on March 26 in U.S. District Court of Southern Indiana claiming that, between November 2005 and August 2008, Impact hired an Asian manufacturer to produce look-alike SFI labels. The lawsuit, based on an affidavit from former Impact employee Darren Swisher, says the counterfeit labels were put on seatbelts, arm restraints, fire suits, head socks, gloves and boots.

“Until Impact is afforded fair procedure, Impact could suffer irreparable harm, if it has not already,” the court wrote.

The court ruling means Impact’s contracts with SFI did not terminate on June 22 as planned.

In April, Impact and SFI agreed that products made during 2009 and 2010 would remain SFI-certified. In addition, Impact can continue to manufacture and certify its products as SFI-compliant, the company said.

SFI's move to decertify Impact Racing's current product line threatened the business because the gear would be unusable at any track requiring SFI certification.

Simpson started Impact Racing in 2002 after fending off rumors that a seatbelt made by his former company, Simpson Performance Products, played a role in Dale Earnhardt's death. The NASCAR driver died after a crash in the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.

Impact has its headquarters and a showroom at 1531 Northfield Drive in Brownsburg and factory stores in Mooresville, N.C., and Irwindale, Calif., according to the company website. The site includes video of the famously demonstrative Simpson set ablaze in one of his own racing suits to show its protective qualities.

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