In this installment of Driver Safety Gear we are going to talk about racing helmets. A helmet is one of the most critical pieces of driver safety gear. The primary purpose of a racing helmet is to protect your head. Let's face it, your brain controls your entire body and you should do everything you can to protect it the best way you can. There are a number of different styles and types of helmets on the market today. Prices range from less than $100 to well over $1,000. So what makes one helmet cost less than $100 and another helmet cost over $1,000? It is the materials used in its construction and the way it was manufactured and tested.
Before You Buy
When purchasing a race helmet there are a few things you need to determine before you make your purchase. First: find out if the series you are planning to race in has any specific rules about the helmet you can use. Full Face, Open Face, Modular, SNELL, SFI, BSI or DOT Rating. Most racing organizations will have specific criteria on what is a legal vs illegal helmet, so be sure to check with your series Technical Director. Second: A helmet that might be legal for riding a motorcycle on the street may not be legal for racing. Third: Almost every race helmet has a rating and an expiration date. Helmets dont last forever. Most helmets are only good for 10 years from manufacturer date. There should be a sticker on the inside of the helmet, possibly behind some of the padding that will tell you when the helmet was manufactured.
Most helmets will allow you to change the visors. This is a nice feature as you may want to change to a dark, tinted visor on overly bright days or change to a yellow visor for night races. It also gives you the option to replace the visor should it become scratched or damaged in some way.
Keeping you head cool on hot summer days can really mean the difference between staying focus on your driving or loosing focus because you are sweating to death. Look for helmets that have both front and rear air vents that allow air to flow freely thru the helmet. This will allow you to stay cool in the heat of competition or stay warm when the air temps start getting cold.
The most expensive helmet in the world with the best safety rating in the world won't do you any good if it doesn't fit your head correctly. Be sure to measure your head and order the proper size helmet. A loose fitting helmet will not protect you for the way it was designed. Helmets should have a tight or snug fit on your face and should not move freely on your head. Once you put the helmet on, your head should move with the helmet. If it doesn't or if it feels loose than chances are you have the wrong size helmet. Many of the online shops that sell helmets also have a guide for how to measure your head. Get someone to help you and you can't get an good measurement when measuring your own head.
Treat Your Helmet Like Your Life Depends On It.
This may sound obvious but it should be said. Always take good care of your race helmet and handle it carefully. You are investing a good chunk of money in some equipment to protect one of the most important parts of your body. Don't toss it around and especially don't drop it. Once a helmet is dropped or involved in some sort of impact, it is no longer as effective as it was prior to the impact. In fact, many race series or helmet manufacturers may want you to replace it or get it re-certified after an impact.
In our next installment we will talk about the importance of Rib & Chest Protectors.
Until then... Go to the Track, Make Friends, Have Fun and Go Home Happy!