Posted by gomotp media


Automotive (car) racing helmets look similar to motorcycle helmets from afar but are they the same? Truth is, there are many differences due to the environment and purpose they are used for.


Motorcycle helmet

A motorcycle helmet must provide the following:

  • Protection against impact when the rider's head contacts the road or any hard surface or object. Full face helmets are tested on various zones to absorb the forces of these impacts rather than being transferred to the rider.
  • Protection from abrasion when the helmet touches the road or ground. The helmet's shell and EPS liner must not wear through.
  • Not fire rated i.e. not fire resistant as the rider is usually thrown clear of the motorcycle in a crash, rather than being trapped in the vehicle.
  • Eye protection from flying debris.
  • Unobstructed vision vertically and also horizontally, hence the eyeport must be larger.
  • Adequate airflow to keep the wearer's head cool.
  • Good aerodynamics for stability at speed.
  • Manageable noise level at speed, yet not fully silent.
  • Motorcycle helmets are certified by a number of organizations, among them ECE, SNELL, DOT, BS, FIM and so forth but the ECE R 22.XX standard is the most recognised.

Auto racing helmet

Here are the features that automotive racing helmets must provide:

  • Protection against impact because the rider's head may contact certain hard points in the car or say in the event of a collision. This is also why the chin bar on auto racing helmets are taller in case it contacts the steering wheel.
  • Does not require abrasion protection as the helmet does not slide against rough surfaces at high speeds.
  • Fire resistance as the driver needs some time to extricate himself from his burning vehicle. The material lining the internal paddings must be made from fire resistant NOMEX, while the rubber gasket around the eyeport must melt in a fire to seal the faceshield against fire. The exception to this ruling is for karting helmets as kart drivers do not sit in an enclosed cockpit.
  • Posts for attaching the HANS (Head and Neck Support) device.
  • Does not require sleek aerodynamics, manageable sound levels and airflow.
  • Does not require large eyeport as the driver only looks ahead and does not need to dip his head like a motorcyclist does.
  • The accepted standards for automotive racing helmets are SNELL SA (Special Applications) and SNELL K2020 (for karting). The former is fire rated while the latter is not.  


As you can see, there are many differences between the two. So, do wear a helmet designed for the specific application whether you are riding a motorcycle or racing in a car.