Racing Helmet History

From Cork to Carbon Fiber

It is hard to conceive nowadays. In 1950 Giuseppe ‘Nino’ Farina drove his Alfa Romeo 158 to the first formula 1 victory at an average speed of 140 km/h without wearing a crash helmet. Instead he was wearing a thin leather cap. Concern about head injuries in racing grew faster than efforts to design safer helmets. In the 1950’s things began to change as the first hard-shell helmet emerged, mostly in the shape of a ‘pudding basin’, and manufactured by companies as Les Leston, Everoak, Cromwell, Herbert Johnson, Buco and Chapal.
The so-called ‘cork’ helmet was soon to be followed by the aluminum helmet, and in 1955 the Bell Auto Parts company produced the first fiberglass helmet, the Bell 500. In 1957, after the tragic death of Pete Snell, the Snell Memorial Foundation was established, dedicated exclusively to head protection through scientific and medical research, standards development, helmet testing, and public education. In the same year Bell helmets fitted its Bell 500 with a new kind of polyester foam interior. The modern helm began to take shape.
In 1968, Bell introduced the first full-face motorcycle helmet. Dan Gurney used it for the first time during the 1968 Indianapolis 500. The Bell Star helmet became a classic, used by most drivers in the 70’s. Since then, the helmet has evolved, companies such as Bell, GPA, Simpson, Arai and  Shoei have continuously upgraded their products and additional safety devices were introduced such as the HANS device and the Zylon strip.

70 Years Formula One Racing Helmet History