Jim Downing grew up in the Atlanta area surrounded by stock cars, attending races at the Peach Bowl and sneaking under the fence to watch races at Lakewood Speedway. But he made his mark as a sports car racer and continues to race – and win – at age 73. The Georgia Tech graduate is a five-time IMSA champion, but his greatest contribution to motorsports is his work with the head and neck restraint device commonly known as the HANS. Downing, recognizing the problems associated with a restrained torso and an unrestrained head in a crash, worked with his brother-in-law Dr. Robert Hubbard to develop and market a restraint device that has been credited with saving countless lives in racing circuits across the globe.
Being honored at home is very meaningful, Downing said.
“It’s a thrill to be recognized by the people in my home state,” he said.