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Henry Bock, designer of auto racing safety barrier, dies at 81

Dr. Henry Bock, left, the medical services director

Dr. Henry Bock, left, the medical services director of the Indy Racing League, and Dr. Stephen Stapczinski, the medical director of UK and the Kentucky Speedway, speak about the medical condition of actor Jason Priestley on Aug. 11, 2002 in Sparta, Kentucky. Credit: Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS — Dr. Henry Bock, a pioneering doctor in racing and a key player in creating the SAFER barrier, has died. He was 81.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials made the announcement after confirming the death with his caregiver, who was working directly with the family.

Bock served as the track’s senior director of medical services from 1982-2006. He held the same title with the IndyCar Series from 1996-2006 and continued working as a consultant for both after retiring.

Though he developed new treatments for drivers, Bock may be best known for working on the Steel And Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) barriers, also known as “soft walls,” that have become a staple at American tracks. The barriers are designed to absorb kinetic energy when cars make contact with them, reducing the chance for injuries to drivers and spectators, according to the NASCAR website.

In 2000, he received Indiana’s prestigious Sagamore of the Wabash distinction.

Bock is survived by a brother, Bob, and a sister, Marianne.

New York Sports