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Auto Racing Helmets

A quality auto racing helmet is a necessary safety precaution. Available models number in the thousands, so how do choose the one for you? The following guide can help you narrow down your choices.

How do you choose a well-fitting helmet?

To choose a helmet that fits, you need to measure your head and find the helmet whose letter size corresponds to your measurement. You can measure your head by wrapping a cloth tape measure horizontally around your head at the largest part. The tape measure should be roughly 1 inch above your eyebrows and should encompass any protrusion of your occipital bone in the back of your head.

Most manufacturers' letter sizes and hat sizes correspond to the same measurement ranges in inches, give or take 1 or 2 inches. As a general rule, your helmet should fit snugly enough to apply gentle, consistent pressure around your entire head. You should not be able to remove it with your hand once fastened. It should be as tight as you can stand to wear it without being uncomfortable. Below is a rough breakdown of letter sizes and the measurements they correspond to in inches:

  • XS: 20.5 to 21 inches
  • S: 21 to 22 inches
  • M: 22 inches
  • L: 23 inches
  • XL: 23.5 to 24 inches
  • XXL: 24 to 25.5 inches
Do Arai or Simpson make auto racing helmets for motorbikes?

Arai and Simpson do make motorcycle helmets, but these are different from auto racing helmets. Auto racing helmets are engineered to provide you with the level of visibility required to navigate a race track. Most manufacturers, including Arai and Simpson, produce clearly labeled auto and motorcycle helmets. They advise that you use your helmet for the intended sport to take full advantage of its features.

What does "SA" mean?

"SA" refers to Special Application. It is a rating attributed to the Snell Foundation, a nonprofit organization that sets safety standards for auto helmets. Special Application rated helmets meet certain safety standards for competitive automobile racing. For example, all SA-rated helmets have fire retardant lining to prevent fire-related injuries to your face in the event of a racing accident.

These helmets also undergo tests to gauge the durability of its materials and the quality of its racing performance, facial coverage, and visual clearances. Tests entail the use of conditions analogous to real life racing scenarios. Snell revises its automobile racing helmet safety criteria every five years.

What is SA2015?

SA2015 is another Snell qualification. Helmets produced to this qualification contain required M6 threaded inserts. These inserts are installed in the shell to accommodate head and neck restraint anchors. The qualification specifically indicates that the neck restraint anchors can withstand a high level of activity in special pull tests designed to simulate an actual racing scenario. One such test simulates striking a side window frame. SA2015 nearly aligns to FIA 8859-2015 in terms of safety requirements.

How often should you replace your helmet?

You should replace your helmet every five years or less to coincide with evolving safety criteria. The five-year rule allows for the inevitable advent of new technologies, materials, and production. Plus, body fluids, oil, cosmetics, and the elements degrade your helmet over time, lessening quality.

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