If you’re a race car driver then you’ve probably heard of Bell Helmets. You might even use the brand for protective gear when you’re competing. It’s a dangerous profession and crashes are common. Even the minor ones can lead to dire consequences if you’re not wearing head protection. Bell helmets offer a good solution and the company that sells them has an interesting history that is worth hearing about, so here are 10 things that you didn’t know about Bell Helmets.
1. The Founder of Bell Helmets was a former pro race car driver
Roy Richter is the name of the founder of Bell Helmets. He purchased a store that was called Bell Auto Parts in 1945. The auto parts store was opened in 1923 and had been established for a few decades at the time that Roy acquired it. Roy was a race car diver who competed on local circuits in the 1930s.
2. A tragedy resulted in the development of Bell Helmets
In 1946, just a year after Roy had purchased the Bell Auto Parts store, one of his good friends was killed n a racing accident. He had seen many accidents in his time and he knew of the dangers in racing. This time it hit even closer to home. Roy had a concern for safety and until this time it had focused mainly on ways to improve the tracks. He turned his attention to the head protection that was available for drivers.
3. The first Bell Helmet was the 500
The Bell 500 was the first helmet that was developed for Bell Helmets. It didn’t come with a face mask but the fiberglass shell is something that most will still recognize. Although a lot different than the materials used in today’s more modern helmets, they were top quality for the time. The 500’s open face design would soon receive upgrades in its evolution to include an updated polystyrene liner.
4. The Bell 500-TX was an award winner
The Museum of Modern Art recognized how well the early Bell helmet was made. They bestowed a prestigious award to the owner to Bell Helmets because of the safety and importance of the model. It was given the Excellence of Design Award. In fact, to this day, the Museum of Modern Art has four of Bell Helmet’s vintage models on display for the public.
5. The original store only cost $1,000
When Roy Richter first purchased Bell Auto Parts in 1945, he was able to do so with just $1,000. Of course, this was a lot more back in the 1940s. He had to sell his car to do it, but this was something he’d wanted to do for a long time. He had worked there when he was just a teenager.
6. Bell Helmets were popular with police officers
Because of their reputation for safety, the 500 model became a helmet that was embraced by police departments all over the United States. As the word spread, Bell Helmets became a big supplier for around 800 different police departments. Richter was successful in achieving one of his major goals and that was to improve safety.
7. The US Ski Team used Bell Helmets
Bell Helmets also became popular as safety gear for skiers. The US Ski Team also purchased Bell Helmets for their athletes. In addition to this, Evel Knievel endorsed Bell Helmets and credited them with saving his life in a crash.
8. Bell Helmets changed locations
Bell Helmets made a big move in 1968. The company was becoming successful and it became necessary for them to move to Long Beach, California. It was at the new location that Richter produced the first Bell Helmet to feature a full-face design. Needless to say, this was highly lauded by race car drivers as well as moto riders beginning in 1971.
9. The first Bell 500TX sold for $37
This is a fun fact about the history of Bell Helmets. When the new and innovative 500TX model first came out it was sold for a mere $37. This helmet was even AMA approved, which increased its value. This price was recently seen on an old vintage flyer advertising for Bell Helmets.
10. Bell Helmets offers helmets for every type of racing sports
It doesn’t matter what type of racing sport you’re involved in, Bell markets a helmet that will help to keep you safer. They offer auto racing helmets, motocross, and enduro helmets, protective headgear for skiers and more.