96 JUNE 2014
bEll hElmEt 60th aNNivErsary
bell’s unwavering commitment to
creating and producing innovative,
state-of-the-art head protection makes it
the choice of many of today’s top racers.
leading drivers wearing bell helmets
in 2014 include three-time indy 500
winner helio Castroneves (abOvE, with
the bell hP7), NasCar sprint Cup stars
brad Keselowski and Kevin harvick, and
multiple sports car champ and tUDOr
Championship frontrunner scott Pruett.
the hP7 (bElOW) was designed in
collaboration with leading F1 drivers and
teams to be as aerodynamically sleek,
lightweight and efficient as possible for
the demands of high-speed, open-wheel
racing. its shell and shield design has
been optimized by moving the shield
pivot pointer to a lower position to
improve acoustic comfort, aerodynamic
behavior and energy absorption. test
results show that in certain impacts, the
bell hP helmets absorb up to 40 percent
more energy than standard models.
still PUshiNg FOr WarD
worn by the pros
bell’s hp7 helmet, which meets the FIA’s
stringent 8860 “super helmet” standard,
and is the choice of many leading pro drivers.
(AboVe) roy richter’s innovative designs
and progressive approach to safety continue
to define the DnA of bell racing today.
Dan Gurney (at the ’ 68 British
GP) started a revolution with
the full-face Bell STAR.
hen Roy Richter produced the first
Bell helmet in a small garage behind his
California auto parts store in 1954, he
began a legacy of breaking new ground in
safety and comfort technology that
continues to this day, 60 years later.
Richter’s first helmet, the 500,
consisted of a hand-laminated fiberglass
shell and polyurethane foam liner. His
friend, Cal Niday, wore one in the 1955
Indianapolis 500 – the first driver to do
so – but crashed hard into the wall on the
170th lap. Although he suffered major
injuries, Niday credited the helmet with
preventing more serious head injuries
and he was back racing just months later.
Never one to rest on his laurels, Richter
always sought better, more innovative ways
to progress head protection. In 1957, the
Bell 500-TX broke new ground with its use
of an expanded polystyrene (EPS) liner
which absorbed impact force, rather than
transmitting it to a driver’s head. One of the
most influential helmets ever made, the
500-TX’s emphasis on protection through
energy absorption remains a fundamental
premise of helmet design today.
When the Snell Foundation established
standards and tests to improve the
effectiveness and integrity of helmets, the
industry as a whole took a leap forward,
but Bell remained at its leading edge.
In 1958, Jimmy Bryan was the first
Indy winner to wear a Bell helmet. A
decade later another great innovator, Dan
Gurney, wore the first full-face helmet at the
Brickyard. Gurney’s elegant black Bell STAR
started a revolution, and in the 1971 Indy
500, all 33 starters wore Bell helmets.
Through the 1970s and ’80s, the
innovations kept coming, including the first
fire retardant helmet in ’ 73 and the first
lightweight composite design in ’ 79.
Bell was also a pioneer in aerodynamics.
Its 1991 Vortex used vortex generators to
reduce buffeting, and the Feuling SS,
launched in ’ 93, featured a front splitter and
rear wicker for use at 200mph-plus.
And as it celebrates its 60th anniversary
in 2014, Bell’s desire to push safety and
comfort to new levels is as strong as ever.
saFEty thrOUgh iNNOvatiON
2014 marks the 60th anniversary of the first bell helmet. much has changed in
that time, but bell’s desire to innovate and to always improve is the same.
Bell’s first helmet.
its fiberglass shell
was slow work,
but Richter felt
it would be
Bell Helmets is
partner for a
video series with
Dan Gurney on
To find out more
about Bell’s 2014
patented by Jim
Feuling, the SS
lift and buffeting