In order to participate in any form of motorsports, there is but one universal requirement: a helmet.  From parking lot auto-x to door-to-door competitive racing, you have to have a helmet.  Of course the safety requirements go on up from there; cages, nets, HANS, fire suppression, so on and so forth.  Helmets, like shoes, fit differently even within a single brand.  It’s absolutely necessary to try before you buy, especially considering the amount of money a decent helmet goes for.

The difficulty comes with finding a local shop that carries a selection to try.  Unless you live in Mooresville, NC, you probably are going to be hard pressed to find a decent race shop nearby.  Some folks suggest going to a powersports shop and trying on helmets, which would help you narrow down, except those are “M” rated helmets and don’t adhere to Snell SA standards. SA standard has different fire retardant requirements for use in four wheel racing.  A thorough Googling of all of Texas didn’t reveal much in the way of shops, even in the larger DFW and Houston metro areas.  To my surprise it did turn up something; Simpson’s corporate headquarters and factory are located in New Braunfels, just a 100 miles down I-35 from my house.

So while I had some free time on leave I hopped in the M3 (topping off the fluids) and put it through a distance shake-down.

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Located right off the highway is Simpson’s rather nondescript world headquarters.  Just a big Simpson sign on the side and a small parking lot to the side.  I walked in expecting a huge showroom full of race gear, maybe a couple cars on display, hot tire chicks holding umbrellas, etc.  Well, what I got was a nice receptionist and a showroom the size of my den.  They did have all their helmets on display, a few HANS devices, and a decent selection of fire suits (one was printed to look like denim overalls, clever.)  I already knew I was mostly interested in the Voyager Evolution, so I went ahead and asked if they had some sizes for me to try.  The receptionist paged someone from the back who came out to help me.  The lady, named Pam, was very friendly and asked a few questions about what I was looking for, even measured my head.  She then went back to see if she had one in my size (apparently most of their helmets are made to order, they don’t maintain a lot of stock.)  Out she came with a brand new gloss black Voyager Evo to try on.  It fit well, but I was really looking for a white one.

I honestly hadn’t planned to purchase on the spot, as I had found the exact helmet for about $50 cheaper through Jegs and Summit, but at least I knew which size to order.  I was about to leave when I asked if they offered a military discount, which they do.  Not your standard 10%, but they offer team pricing to military.  They mentioned they don’t advertise, so I won’t put out how much I saved, but it was substantial.  Their discount beat all the prices I had found on the internet, so asked again if they might have a white one.  Pam went to look again, and sure enough came back with a white Evo.  She even took the time to explain how to order a 6-point belt system for my car once I have a cage.

Simpson Voyager Evolution

Time will tell how much I like the helmet, but I really like how it has very wide field of vision.  I was also swayed by Simpson being made in America, right in the back of the store where I bought it.  I actually took a sneak peek into the back, where it was nearly all hand made processes, no large machinery or robots at work.  There are less expensive options out there, several folks even had great things to say about Pyrotech, and their prices were definitely tempting.  I did a little digging (because their website doesn’t say) and discovered they are made in China.  I’m not above pinching a penny or two, but I’m not going with a Chinese brain bucket.  Another similar option was HJC, but they too make their helmets in Korea, Vietnam, and China (at least HJC admits it.)  The Italian brands are very nice, but even more expensive than the US made.

So now that I have a helmet, I technically can take the car to the track/auto-x.  That said, I’m pretty sure the M3 would fail tech due to brake pad wear, which is just the most blatant issue.  The Spyder is another option, except the lack of a permanent hard top limits its acceptance.  The M Coupe is pretty much good to go, but I’d hate to abuse it.  So I guess I’ll just put the helmet on and make engine sounds.

 

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