From infancy to old age, we are often reminded of the importance of proper head protection. From contact sports such as football to motorsports on motorcycles or cars, the goal is to perform as strong as possible while still being up to get up unscathed in the event of an accident. Regardless of what speed impact or angle, it only takes one decent hit to the head to cause permanent damage. Because of how critical this subject is, racing sanctioning bodies are quite precise on helmet safety requirements. Depending on what kind of racing you plan to do, your helmet should always be a top priority. At the time of this writing, helmets are currently under the SA2010 standard (SA stands for “Special Applications”). The SA2015 standard will be adopted with new helmets after October 1, 2015.


According to SA2010 standards, the following sections of the helmet must abide by these regulations:

Outer Shell

     – Outer layer made from composite such as fiberglass or carbon fiber, covered with a protective enamel

     – Main job is to prevent object penetration and impact force absorption

     – First barrier against fire

     – Must be able to withstand a 1450 degree Fahrenheit propane flame for 30 seconds without reaching over 158 degree inside lining temperature

Helmet Face/Chin Area

     – Open-face (chinless) helmets are not accepted by most racing sanctioning bodies

     – A nasty crash could mean broken facial bones without face protection

     – Full face can also protect your face and skin from burns

     – Will not need to buy another helmet if going karting or open-wheel racing

Shield Visor

     – SNELL test requires that the visor shield resist piercing by a one-gram lead pellet fired at it in three locations at 311MPH

     – Shield must also endure 1450 degrees fahrenheit torch for 45 seconds without melting

Energy Absorption

     – Most of the force is absorbed by a thick layer of foam

     – SNELL standards say the helmet must accelerate the head it’s protecting at a peak of no more than 275g after being struck with an anvil at speeds as high as 17MPH, helmet must remain intact

Changes for SA2015

     – Helmets must be ready for the addition of frontal restraint tether hardware such as used in HANS and other systems

     – Provisions for “Low Velocity” impact testing

     – “Low Lateral” impacts in case of strikes against side window frames and similar structures