So, I was at a car club track day about two weeks ago run by a driver training academy that has, in the fifteen years since I first met them, grown from a handful of super-qualified drivers teaching racers how to race into a North America-wide training organization that runs factory track events for major manufacturers, mostly European. The morning driver's meeting was a bit of sombre event because one of the club directors, an avid track day enthusiast and a great friend of all of us, had been seriously injured in a roll-over incident at a local track in the spring. He died seven days later in hospital. This was the first time we were together as a group at a track, and the usual safety briefing went longer than normal. At the end, there was startling announcement: from this point forward, at club events, we'd be driving windows up. The explanation is that new safety data from OEM-run HPDE (Ferrari, Porsche, BMW, MB, etc) events has caused a re-think of the traditional "helmets on, windows down" approach to on-track safety. This trend started in Europe and the organizers expect that it will be coming to North America. Unlike other track day operators, OEM's are in the business of engineering and building cars, and their cars capture huge amounts of data. When there's a track incident, the factory engineers download the data and assess the performance of the vehicle safety systems. We all know about the decades of effort that have dramatically improved road safety and racing safety. Modern cars of either type are very safe. However, this new analysis is looking at the safety aspects of the way cars are used at HPDE events, and what's becoming clear is that factory safety systems in road cars aren't being used as effectively as they could be. The first revelation is that when you're relying on the factory safety systems, it's just plain safer to drive windows up than windows down. The reason is simple: giving up a few horsepower to run the air conditioning is a good trade-off versus having your head and arms flailing out the driver's window in a roll-over incident. The other item that's facing questions is the use of helmets. Apparently, the weight of your helmet changes the way that your head moves in a collision, increasing the risk of injury in an air bag equipped car. The lightest weight carbon fiber helmets may be ok, but for now work is continuing to determine what's safe and what's not. So, I'm sure tradition will live on with many organizers, but there will be a trend. And if you're going to an event with "helmets on, windows down" rules, invest in a lightweight CF helmet and a window net.