Full-face: The full story?


I enjoyed your article on the introduction of the Bell full-face helmet to racing, and the role played by Dan Gurney in bringing this important piece of safety equipment to prominence.

I thought you might be interested to know that Dan actually began using the full-face helmet in Formula One prior to the 1968 German GP at the Nurburgring. I have a photograph of him during the 1968 Dutch GP at Zandvoort driving a Repco-Brabham BT24. It seems the Eagle was a little under the weather, and Sir Jack loaned Dan the spare car for the race (I now own BT24-3, and race it in historic events).

Dan used the full-face helmet in practice (above), but reverted to goggles for the race. And this proved to be his undoing. Eoin Young's notes from the race indicate that his retirement (he overshot Tarzan Corner) was attributable to broken goggles.

Perhaps reliability of equipment also played a role in making the full-face helmet the standard.


John B Dimmer, Washington, USA

[Keith Howard writes: In myfull face helmet article I stated that Swede Savage was the first driver to wear one in a race. Dan and Evi Gurney have questioned the accurate of this. Can anyone shed more light on this issue?]