During my 25 years in motorsports medicine, I have met many physicians from around the world who are involved in the sport as venue and series medical directors, track physicians and board members of international organizations such as the International Council of Motorsports Sciences, USAC, NASCAR and others. As motorsports physicians, we’ve learned the discipline through “on the job” training and years of mentoring from the pioneers in motorsports medicine, as well as shared experiences with our physician colleagues in the field.
A frequent topic among our group is the training and qualifications of physicians who want to engage in motorsports medicine. While there are short weekend programs and annual meetings, we haven’t yet developed a comprehensive training program for the next generation of motorsports physicians. With this goal in mind, I believe there is no better location than Indianapolis, home of the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). Indiana University and IU Health have a long history of providing medical support to IMS. It’s through this partnership that we are able to offer some unique training opportunities to residents and fellows interested in pursuing careers in motorsports medicine.
IU School of Medicine currently hosts a monthlong Motorsports Medicine/Mass Gathering Elective for upper-level Emergency Medicine residents. During the rotation, residents have a unique opportunity to practice complicated extrications with the on-track response team and participate in hands-on simulations of life-threatening conditions that may arise during high-speed collisions. While the 2020 Indianapolis 500 was held without fans due to COVID-19, residents participating in the elective typically have opportunities to broaden their understanding of mass-gathering medicine by providing immediate medical support in the “Snake Pit,” during fan events, trackside along EMS crews and at the Infield Care Center. Residents observe the complexity of background operations, including daily responsibilities of the track medical director, EMS coordination, patient disposition and transport. The elective is very popular and has attracted visiting house staff from across the country, as well as observers from around the world.
Working collaboratively with IMS and the INDYCAR Series, we’ve also established a one-year fellowship program. The first program of its kind, the IU School of Medicine Motorsports Medicine Fellowship offers a more universally accepted approach to the evaluation and treatment of high-speed and ultra-high-speed crash injuries, race injury prevention and promotion of safety across the motorsports industry. Our fellows are not only exposed to practical approaches for the evaluation, management and rehabilitation of injuries sustained by participants of the sport, but also to post-crash investigation and identification of measures to prevent injury and promote safety.
Interested or want to learn more? Contact Geoff Billows, MD (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
Geoff Billows, MD
Dr. Billows graduated from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in 1992. Following graduation he completed his residency in Emergency Medicine in 1995 at the Methodist Hospital Emergency Medicine Residency Program, where he served as Chief Resident. Prior to attending medical school Dr. Billows was a FireFighter/Paramedic for 13 years with the City of Fairborn, Ohio. Dr. Billows became involved with motorsports and mass gathering medicine during his residency, when he volunteered in the Infield Care Center at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during racing events. He quickly developed a passion for motosports medicine and has been involved with the INDYCAR Series in varying roles since 1995. He first served as a Safety Team Physician, became the Deputy Medical Director, and currently is the Medical Director for the INDYCAR Series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Dr. Billows has extensive experience in a number of racing disciplines, and has functioned as the National Medical Chief for the Redbull Air Race World Championships, the Chief Medical Officer for the Indianapolis MotoGP motorcycle races, the Chief Medical Officer for the Formula One United States Grand Prix, the Chief Medical Officer for the NASCAR Brickyard 400 as well as the Chief Medical Officer for the INDY 500.