Can You Use a Motorcycle Helmet for Auto Racing

Can You Use a Motorcycle Helmet for Auto Racing?

Surely, a helmet is a helmet, regardless of the type. In the event of a collision, it protects your head, and it is imperative for anyone driving a vehicle to wear one. 

Although many people may not realize it, all helmets do not share the same features, which is why a motorcycle helmet differs from an auto racing helmet.

It is therefore not advisable to use a motorcycle helmet while racing. Let us now delve into the topic in more detail.

Can you use a motorcycle helmet for auto racing?

These two types of helmets are made for very different situations, which means that they differ greatly in many ways. For this reason, motorcycle helmets should not be used for auto racing.

You may be wondering, what is the reason for not being able to use a motorcycle helmet for auto racing? 

Some of the basic characteristics of motorcycle helmets differ from those of automotive helmets. This is why racing a car requires a different helmet from riding a bike. Here are a few differences between the two helmets that will help me explain their specific uses:

The goal of automobile helmets is to resist multiple impacts, while motorcycle helmets are designed to resist a single impact. 

  • Auto racing helmets come with threaded inserts for HANS devices.
  • Racing helmets are also fire retardant, but motorcycle helmets aren’t. 
  • Both of them have slightly different safety standards.
  • They differ in shape, ventilation, and aerodynamics.

Now let’s take a closer look at each point.

Impact resistance 

Multi-impact protection is an essential feature of an auto racing helmet. Because, when the driver is entrapped within a car in an accident, metal parts may strike his head multiple times. On the other hand, motorcycle helmets are designed to protect against a single impact.

In addition, motorcyclists are more prone to crashes and slides, so they have their helmets tested against this kind of impact. In contrast, auto racers are likely to suffer head hits from collisions or rollovers, but they don’t slide.

HANS device

Auto racing helmets with SA ratings by Snell offer compatibility with HANS (Head and Neck Safety) device. In the event of a crash, this keeps the driver’s head more stable, reducing the risk of neck and head injuries.


Motorcycle helmets and automotive helmets are characterized by their flame resistance. Since drivers may get trapped inside a burning car, auto racing helmets must undergo fire testing. 

In auto racing helmets, Nomex linings are used since it’s a fire-resistant material, plus the visor lining melts to seal off the helmet from flames.

Safety standards

The SA standards are designed for high-speed auto racing, and the M standards are intended for motorcycling. They differ in several important ways:

  • A flammability test is required by the SA standard, but not by the M standards.
  • With the SA standards, the visual field is narrower than with the M standards. 
  • A multi-impact rollbar test is included in the SA standard, but not in the M standard. (Also, keep in mind that, some helmets certified by SA might not be street legal)

The difference in shape, ventilation, and aerodynamics

Unlike drivers of auto race cars, motorcycle riders are exposed to the elements. Thus, their helmets have larger eye ports, are more aerodynamic, and are quieter to wear, along with more vents to keep the rider’s head cool.

Final verdict

It’s recommended not to switch motorcycle and auto racing helmets, even if they’re Snell certified. Due to the differences between the two types of helmets, it makes sense to buy a motorcycle helmet for biking and an auto racing helmet for racing.

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