As more and more of our customers join us for track days and even racing, the question often comes up – do I need a special helmet to go on track?

The answer is YES, and a car helmet is NOT the same as a motorcycle helment….so, don’t bring your bike helmet to a car event.

The next question is, “do I need a special type of helmet?”    The answer is again YES, it has to be a 2000 or newer helment, meeting a minimum of the SNELL 2000 regulations, and next year (2011), the minimum will be SNELL 2005.   The SNELL regulations are updated every 5 years, and most driving event sanctioning bodies as well as the race sanctioning bodies update the requirements to be in sync w the SNELL ratings.

So, for 2010, you must have a SNELL 2000 or newer approved helmet.

What does the SNELL approval mean?  And, once you read these, you’ll be thankful these exist…as the standards are not “pie in the sky” type requirements, but requirements that could occur during a real accident or incident.

(a) To meet the SA2010 standard, a helmet must be able to withstand a 1450 F degree propane flame for 30 seconds, during which the padding inside the helmet can’t get hotter than 158 F degrees.

(b) The visor shield must resist piercing from a one-gram lead  pellet fired at it in three locations at a speed of 311 mph.  The same shield must also endure that 1450 degree propane torch for 45 seconds without melting.

(c) The Snell standard says the helmet just the head by no more than 275g after being hit with an anvil at speeds as high as 17mph.   Certain related elements subject helmets to three of these hits in a row.  And, the helmet’s structure must remain intact, preventing any any object from making contact with your head.

Helmets get lighter and stronger, but nonetheless, they must provide the kind of protection required in real world situations.

And, if you ask us, “open face or closed face helmet?”, we will always recommend closed face helmets.

So….of all the helmets out there, which ones do we like?    Arai, Bell, and Simpson are our choices.   Arai is the most expensive, usually the lightest, and the tightest fitting.  Bell usually has the best overall fit and comfort, and the largest eyeport.  Simpson has a broad range of styles, is usually lighter than the Bell, but not as light as the Arai.  But, all helmets must be tried on to know if they will work for you.

Cheaper versions of the helmet normally come in group sizes (S, M, L, XL).  More expensive helmet versions come in hat specific sizes ( 7 1/2″).   We just got new helmets again, and we choose Bell Dominator w HANS attachments.

Be Safe….have FUN.