The beginning of any racing season is the perfect time for every racer to examine their safety equipment. One item that probably deserves the toughest review is your helmet.
All good racing helmets will contain a Snell Memorial Foundation Approval sticker. If your helmet is not Snell Approved, put it out at the curb for the next trash pick-up!
To be Snell Certified, the manufacturer must send five helmets to the Snell Foundation and pay a testing fee. The foundation will then subject four of the helmets to extreme testing and the fifth helmet is archived, just in case a review is needed.
If the helmet passes all tests, the manufacturer then signs a contract to buy certification labels for every helmet produced and the Snell Foundation reserves the right to randomly retest the certified helmet at any time.
A helmet that will be used in Motorsports should meet the Snell SA standards. Helmets that are SA certified have passed testing covering impacts and fire. When testing impact, it must control the energy of 3 impacts against a simulated roll bar. The fire test requires that the helmet’s padding be fire resistant.
If your helmet is Snell M rated, it is intended for motorcycle use and is not fire retardant. Although they are cheaper in price, many racing groups will not allow competitors to wear them.
The Snell Foundation updates their standards every 5 years. The last update was in 2015 and to be SA approved a helmet must now have head restraint mounts (You won’t have to drill your own holes) and pass low velocity impact tests. The final update requires that the helmet provide adequate protection around the ears and temple.
If you don’t plan to replace your existing helmet check it carefully for cracks or damage. If you’ve been in a bad wreck and it came in contact with the roll cage or any surface, replace it!