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46 MIN READ TIME

HISTORY OF THE HELMET IN AUTO RACING

Always keeping in mind that Karting is, in fact, an automotive discipline, the racing helmet has a long history that starts from the 1960s. Mariangela Colombo, a historic figure in technical racing apparel - from her famous Competition Market shop inside the Monza racetrack - illustrates the early days of helmets dedicated to four-wheel sports (including karts). “Bell was the first company to study and produce a specific helmet for car racing, more than sixty years ago, ” she tells us. “At the time they passed from open helmets, similar to the current jet helmets, to full helmets and slowly they began to introduce fireproof protection. First by means of external appendices applicable to the helmet, then through the inner and outer lining of the helmet itself. Several manufacturers measured themselves in professional car racing in those years, among these we remember Gpa, AGV, Bieffe who then left the industry to return to concentrate on other types. In the 80s also Arai (one of the main firms in today’s market) decided to enter, through a helmet that on the outside was inspired, as regards the design, by a motorcycle’s – older people will remember the ‘shells’ that covered the attachments of the visor on helmets by Keke Rosberg or Stefan Johansson, which then disappeared with the first models designed by the Japanese manufacturer exclusively for car racing. The epochal change, in technological terms, was made with the Bell XFM1 (photo), a historical model that in the 80s was worn by Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost, Stefano Modena and many others. A long-lived helmet, which raised the bar of the build quality of car helmets as never before. In recent years, carbon has become the reference material in order to lighten the weight on the neck more and more, especially in single-seat car racing. Regarding the weight, one thing must be said, ” Mariangela emphasizes, “one must not be deceived by a superficial ‘weighting’ of the helmet with your hands. The helmet must be tested!, ” the expert warns. “Too often you choose a helmet ‘because it is light’ when you lift it with your hands and instead it is a mistake. The helmet should be tested to see how it fits, if it is suitable for us and how it weighs when we have it on our head. Choosing the right size is the most important thing. Do not choose the lightest helmet. Keep in mind that the good-level helmets are already all very light and it is not a few grams to make a big difference as much as the right size and comfort given by the inner linings that should not press too much against one’s face or give the feeling of your head ‘dancing’ inside.

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Vroom International
n. 211 January 2019
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Other Articles in this Issue


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