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Episode 22

The Ultimate Guide To Helmets

Do you know your Snell from your Bell? Your HANS from your hands? Your Nomex from your Spandex? This is The Ultimate Guide to Racewear!

Part 1/3 – Helmets

When you’re starting out in the world of motorsport, it’s easy to become confused about the variety of different racewear standards, and which ones apply to you. After all, if I hop onto the Demon Tweeks website and go to the ‘Helmets’ category, I’m faced with no less than eight approval standards. EIGHT!

Therefore, I’ve decided it’s time to create a single document that outlines exactly what you need to wear for different disciplines of MotorsportUK licenced National racing, and how much it’ll cost. This is the first instalment of “The Ultimate Guide” into racewear.

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DISCLAIMER

The following information is a summary compiled from the MotorsportUK 2020 Yearbook. If you are unsure about purchasing equipment, please refer to the Yearbook, and ask a reputable retailer. The following guide, although correct to the best of my knowledge, should not be taken as gospel.

This week: helmets. A good-condition head is pretty vital for people to function as they should both on and off the race track, and so it should be your top priority to protect yours at all costs. Therefore, it’s really important that you’re buying a product that is proven to be effective in the sort of crash you might unfortunately find yourself in. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what sort of lid you need.

If you are purchasing equipment for a Bambino, Cadet or under-15 Kart driver, you should be searching for helmets that, at the very least, meet SNELL-FIA CMR2007, SNELL-FIA CMS2007, SNELL-FIA CMR2016 or SNELL-FIA CMS2016 standards. It is imperative, however, that the helmet must not weigh more than 1,550g, due to the forces on these young driver’s necks.

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If you’re an adult who’s karting, or a younger driver partaking in National Junior Drag Racing, you should be looking at helmets that adhere to any of the standards above, or SNELL K2015 is also permitted. SNELL K2010 is permitted for now, however the standard is not valid after 2023, whereas every other standard mentioned up to this point has no current expiry date.

Helmets that adhere to these standards start at around £240 (such as this OMP KJ-8 EVO), but can cost over £1,000 (VAT inclusive) for a full bells-and-whistles carbon-fibre lid, such as this Stilo ST5F N KRT (catchy name, I know!). A good mid-range offering would be the Stilo ST5 CMR at around £375, as it is extremely light at 1.2kg, SNELL-FIA CMR2016 approved, and comes in a variety of shell and lining colours. Alternatively, you are allowed to use any helmet that meets one of the car standards below, meaning you don’t need two helmets for karting and car racing.

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Now, having such a large price range may lead to further questions, such as “how much money should I spend on my helmet?” Of course, I can’t give a specific answer to that question, because every one of you reading this will have a different budget, but I can give one piece of advice. If you’re caught between spending extra on your suit, gloves, boots etc or your helmet, think about which body part is most valuable to you, and spend the extra money protecting that bit. Chances are, it’s your head.

Stepping up from karts into cars, and there are currently seven permitted standards mentioned in the MotorsportUK 2020 Yearbook. FIA 8860-2004 is permitted, however will not be allowed after 2020, so I wouldn’t recommend buying one of these. SNELL SA2010 and SNELL SAH2010 approved helmets are fine for use until the end of 2023, and SNELL SA2015 are permitted until the end of 2026.

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I would personally recommend choosing a helmet that complies with one of the standards that do not currently have an expiry date, though. These standards are FIA 8860-2010, FIA 8859-2015 or SNELL SA2020. Recently the FIA published their 8860-2018 standard which isn’t present in the MotorsportUK Yearbook, however I have been informed by a member of their technical team that helmets meeting this standard are also allowed.

Helmets that meet one of these latter standards can range wildly in price, all the way from £270 (for this Race Safety Accessories lid) to nearly £5,700 for this carbon Stilo! I would say for a good quality, entry level helmet the Sparco Air Pro RF-5W is a great shout at £500, and the Bell GTX3 is a very good entry-level carbon-fibre offering at just under the £1000 mark.

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When buying a helmet, making sure yours meets the correct standard is not the only consideration. It’s vital you buy the correct size for your head, and that it fits nice and snugly. After all, if you did end up in a crash, your helmet wouldn’t do much good if it was super loose and just flew off, would it?

So, in summary, any helmet that fits any of these standards is permissible for use in UK National events:

  • FIA 8860-2004 (not after 31.12.20)
  • SNELL SA2010 (not after 31.12.23)
  • SNELL SAH2010 (not after 31.12.23)
  • SNELL SA2015 (not after 31.12.26)
  • FIA 8860-2010
  • FIA 8859-2015
  • SNELL SA2020
  • FIA 8860-2018
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If you’re taking part in Karting events or Junior Drag Racing you can use any of the above or helmets that fit these standards:

  • SNELL K2010 (not after 31.12.23)
  • SNELL K2015
  • SNELL-FIA CMR2007
  • SNELL-FIA CMS2007
  • SNELL-FIA CMR2016
  • SNELL-FIA CMS2016

Although, if you’re a Kart racer under 15, a Cadet or a Bambino, you need one of these helmets, and it must not weigh more than 1,550g:

  • SNELL-FIA CMR2007
  • SNELL-FIA CMS2007
  • SNELL-FIA CMR2016
  • SNELL-FIA CMS2016

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