Which Classic Racing Driver Wore The Most Striking Helmet?
Flipping through images from the early years of motor racing, one thing is apparent: ‘safety’ was solely in the hands of the drivers, the mechanics, and the weather. Leather caps won’t do much at 10 mph, let alone 150—but when painted helmet designs entered the sport, the world was treated to an undeniably striking art form, along with much-improved safety.
Ayrton Senna’s mostly yellow helmets must be now considered to be art, the same goes for Gilles Villeneuve’s orange-and-black ‘V’ designs, Graham Hill’s London Rowing Club-inspired white oars on a deep blue background, and François Cevert’s tricolore-plus-yellow racing stripes.
Whereas racing liveries—since the ’60s—honor the car, manufacturer, and sponsors, helmets are that one visual signature from drivers that fans quickly burn into their memories and never let go of. They’ve become highly collectable, not just for enthusiasts looking to add to a collection of memorabilia, but for those who want an artifact that connects more closely with their favorite pilot.
For me at least, seeing Alain Prost’s mostly plain white-and-blue helmet battling a grid full of brightly-colored lids was always the highlight of my Sunday mornings. But, obviously, “JAMES HUNT” writ large has got to make the former World Champion’s helmet the most noticeable.
Which racing driver wore the most striking helmet?