Contemporary racing drivers couldn’t imagine a lap without wearing the best helmet money can buy, but surprisingly this fundametal life-saving equipment didn’t become a part of a driver’s safety kit until well into the 20th Century. Donut Media just released a new video under their Evolution Series showcasing racing helmets from the Hall of Fame Collection, and it’s fascinating to trace how much they have transformed.
From the very first soft cloth helmets from 1908 that could barely protect the driver from dirt to today’s carbon-fibre high-impact-resistant miracles, racing helmets have evolved, sometimes begrudgingly, toward increasing protection and injury avoidance. For example, even though the hard shell exterior developed post-WWII, it wasn’t until 1954 that those helmets became mass produced products available to a wider audience. Full-face shells, protective eye visors, fireproof material and neck support; all were gradually introduced to become primary elements of today’s technology-laden wonders. The majority of recent improvements have focused on a driver’s in-race wellbeing, such as fresh air ducting, drinking tubes, strategic anti-acceleration padding, weight reduction, aerodynamics, HANS-device utilisation and communication systems. We look forward to reviewing the history of helmets again in twenty years’ time to celebrate even more life-saving advancements.