Dr. John W. Melvin

John Melvin - Good Guy
John Melvin (1938 – 2014)


Update

A memorial service is expected to be scheduled on Sunday, August 10, at 2:00 pm in the lounge at West Side Methodist Church, 900 S. Seventh St., Ann Arbor, followed by a Memorial Service for John in the Sanctuary at 3:00 pm.

There will be a Celebration of John’s Life at the Ann Arbor City Club, 1830 Washtenaw Ave., following the service.


I was saddened to hear that John Melvin passed away on July 17th after a brief illness. John was one of the good guys in the automobile and racing industry, working for the safety of drivers. He worked from 1968-1985 for UMTRI (University of Michigan Transport Research Institute) and from 1985-1998 at General Motors Research Laboratories. He had been working exclusively on racing safety from 1992 until his retirement in 1998. He had been a safety consultant to NASCAR for the last 13 years.

He was instrumental in getting “black box” data recorders installed in race cars. (Coincidentally I was using similar black boxes for my airbag testing at the time.)

John was a founding member of our Porsche club region (Rally Sport) and our first guest speaker in 1996. He showed back then what the GM Motorsports Safety Technology Research Program was doing to improve the safety of drivers in race cars.

A couple of years ago he almost convinced a bunch of us club track gear heads to spend up to $10,000 on racing car seats as he went over recent developments in driver safety.

It was during this talk that I realized I probably had a concussion from a fall I had the previous month.

John Melvin - Good Guy
Scared Straight and on the Curves – John at ArborMotion discussing his passion: driver safety

911T race seat
John’s seat for his track car. Notice the padding and netting on both sides of the seat to keep him in place.

John was a long-time driving instructor in our club. When I first saw his car back in 1995, he had just installed a supercharger in it. His brown 1972 911T was one of the more interesting Porsches I’ve seen with all of his modifications in it, from its “duck tail” to its front splitter.

John Melvin - Good Guy
John’s 1972 911T

Nice is an over-used adjective, but I can’t think of a better word to describe John. He was truly one of the nicest person I’ve met. He provided a lot of instruction and knowledge to many people over the years. Everyone in our car club considered him a friend. He will be missed.

John Melvin - Good Guy

Additional Links

NASCAR news release

FOX Sports – NASCAR safety pioneer Dr. John Melvin passes away

ESPN – Drivers don’t just listen to John Melvin, they put their lives in his hands

Obituary


Crankiness Rating: 11 out of 11 (The Good Guys lost one from their side.)


Schluß

  • Pamela Melvin Childs

    Thank you for this lovely article about our father. You captured the essence of who he was and the great extent of his work. We miss him dearly. From, Julie and Pamela Melvin