VIDEO. Evolution of Racing Helmets. Donut Media

Donut Media shows the Evolution of Racing Helmets in motorsport during the last century. Pre-war motor racing was piss terrifying…

In its latest ‘Evolution of’ video, Donut Media walks us through close to a century of motorsport helmet design with the Evolution of Racing Helmets. Proving beyond doubt that both pre and post-war drivers were either completely insane or required an extra wide cockpit for their trouser globes…

Take the first model for instance, a relic from 1908 made – apparently – from ‘Soft Cloth’, and therefore offering the same protective capabilities of wrapping yourself in cling film. At least it kept those pesky bugs at bay…

Things had at least developed by 1933, soft cloth having given way to football leather, but there was still a considerable way to go. Only on the cusp of 1950 would racing helmets actually be made from a hard shell.

Despite city-to-city and circuit racing emerging as early as 1894, the first mass-produced driver’s helmet (by Bell) didn’t appear until 1957. It was during the late 1960s / early 1970s though – arguably Formula 1’s golden era – that driver and spectator safety became a true hot topic. Between 1960 and 1969 alone, drivers succumbed to accident injury, the memories of a notably dark 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1955 demonstrating that grandstand spectators were not exempt from tragedy either. With drivers essentially encased in a mobile bomb – given the fuel tanks’ tendency to rupture under impact – fire was a notable threat, fire-proof Nomex making its first appearance in 1968, and the ‘dirt skirt’ just a few years later in 1972.

The contrast between today’s safety standards and yesteryears is enormous, but as Donut Media highlights, the helmet adopted roles other than ‘simple’ driver welfare. As advertising began its slow march into motorsport the sport in the late 1960s, the helmets have since become a no-brainer for sponsorship decals. So…yay…

We’d also like to challenge the motor sport enthusiasts among you to see how many of these helmet liveries you can identify. To get you started, Jackie Stewart’s lid from his 1967 season with March appears at the 25s mark.

Enjoy this Evolution of Racing Helmets story?

You can check out more Donut Media articles HERE, and more Video posts HERE

Categories: Video


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