Following allegations that Dale Earnhardt was killed because his seatbelt broke in his Daytona crash, Bill Simpson of Simpson Performance Products Inc., which manufactured Earnhardt's belt, has released the following statement:

"It is very distressing to lose a good friend and great competitor like Dale Earnhardt. It was also distressing to hear this morning that a seat belt that we produced came apart during his fatal crash.

Having tested and produced seat belts for the motorsports industry for more than 43 years, we have never seen a seat belt come apart in the manner that occurred. Our seat belts, when properly installed, won't fail.

Safety must be paramount in motorsports. The responsibility for safety is everyone's, from the manufacturers, to the crews, to the drivers, to the organizations that sanction the races. When you compromise safety, the risks for tragedy magnify. We understand this and do not compromise our procedures in producing safety products.

Specific installation instructions are included with each seat belt we sell. We urge everyone to insure that safety equipment is properly installed and used in accordance to the common sense instruction provided by manufacturers.

Our 400 employees go to great lengths to insure the safety products we produce meet and exceed the standards demanded by our customers. And we know thousands of drivers are living testimony to our work."