The standard for Karting Helmets established by the Snell Foundation

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Snell is a not-for-profit foundation founded in the USA in 1957 and named after William ‘Pete’ Snell, an amateur racing car driver who tragically passed away the year before in an accident in which the race car rolled and his helmet proved sadly inadequate. His name is inside any helmet, on a label that certifies your own helmet, or ….the helmet you’re going to buy. (f.m.)

The Foundation born in the name of Pete Snell has always maintained neutrality with respect to manufacturers according to the pur­pose that its standards pursue to measure and certify: the safety of anyone who sits behind the wheel of a racing car or a motorcycle. (SNELL also establishes standards for other types of protective helmets. Visit for a general overview). The road of a helmet’s Snell Cer­tification is not a brief one for the manufacturer: it starts from sending one or more prototypes that are submitted to different tests (see below) before being put on the market.

These tests, which precede the promotion and sale of the helmets themselves, are also followed up by some “random test” procedures or by taking helmets to sample from the respective warehous­es of the manufacturers when the said models are already being sold on the market. The number of helmets used for this second test is determined by the total number of helmets produced and placed on the market - to ensure the veracity of the tests, the helmets are often purchased without the knowledge of the manufacturers in the shops themselves. In the case of sample tests resulting in different, i.e., poorer standards than those certified at homologation, Snell instantly withdraws the model’s homologation and requests that the manufacturer, where and when it is not possible to solve the problem detected, return the labels certifying the safety standards.

Snell’s main guideline is to safeguard and protect the brain. In fact, a helmet reproduces something already present in nature: the skull. Think of your head - or rather the ‘precious’ goods to protect inside, your brain - as a matryoshka, the Russian dolls, of which the smallest part is the brain and the largest is the helmet you are wearing. The tests done in the laboratory are divided into different tests: the impact test during which the helmet is dropped in a free-fall from a height of about 3.5 meters and at speed against a sort of anvil that may have different shapes and angles and foresee different falling speeds that simulate the strong decelerations (in this case, over 200 G) that may occur during an accident on the track. The roll-off test is performed by applying a ‘forward’ rotation load to the helmet after fastening it on the head of a mannequin - a dummy head weighing about 6 kg. This test permits establishing a threshold within which the helmet may move, without, of course, slipping off, result­ing in the driver’s head left unprotected. Another important test in this sense is dynamic retention. It involves applying a weight of 23 kilos to a mock ‘jaw’. Here, too, the persistence of this force ‘pulling’ downwards allows to establish a strict safety standard in case of accident and abnormal pressures on the head that it can generate. Two other tests end the series of tests that allow a Karting helmet to obtain the Snell homologation: the chin guard test where a load of 5 kg is fired at great speed from the front against the helmet’s chin guard, and the visor penetration test when a bullet is fired from the front by a compressed air gun at three different points of the visor at a speed of 500 km / h - 138 meters per second. The homologation which expires on December 31, 2023 – take note - is the Snell K2010 (the Snell SA2005 expired at the end of 2018 - check that out). Valid still are Snell-K2015 and K2020, in addition to the Snell CMRs (2007 and 2016).

Created by: fmarangon2 - 07/12/22

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