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Bell Helmets Company History


Bell Racing (Automotive)

Bell's a company of firsts. From our first helmet manufactured in a garage behind Bell Auto Parts in 1954 under the leadership of Roy Richter, to the present line, we're constantly breaking new ground in safety and comfort technology innovations. We know that, as quick as the final flash of that checkered flag, the future soon becomes the past - ¬Ěso we don't look back, we keep pushing forward, searching for the next finish line, the next win in a long history of wins.

Bell began as a small auto parts store in a suburb of Los Angeles. Growing under the leadership of Roy Richter, Bell became a leader in safety equipment for auto racing, motorcycling and then bicycling. His commitment to creating great products through a close connection with the sport, along with his trust of and care for the people who worked for him, turned Bell from a one-man operation to the premiere safety helmet company in the world.

That legacy continues today with the purpose of creating and producing state-of-the-art head protection.

1954 - Bell begins manufacturing its first helmet - the '500' - in a garage located behind Bell Auto Parts.
1955 - Cal Niday becomes the first driver to wear a Bell Helmet in the Indy 500. On the 170th lap, Niday crashes hard into a wall. He credits the helmet with saving him from more serious injury.
1966 - Bell develops the first full-face motorcycle helmet.
1971 - A motor racing history first, all 33 drivers at each of USAC's 500-mile championship races - Indianapolis, Pocono and Ontario - wear Bell helmets.
1973 - Bell introduces the Star FX, the first fire retardant auto racing helmet.
1979 - The XFM-1 was the first lightweight composite auto racing helmet, quickly becoming the helmet of choice for open wheel drivers around the world.
1989 - The AFX-1 was the first all Kevlar helmet and the first to feature a ventilation system that incorporated chin bar vents and top vents to create airflow through the helmet.
1991 - Bell continued the evolution of lightweight helmet technology with the Vortex, the first helmet to feature aerodynamic elements including trip strips and vortex generators to reduce helmet buffeting in open wheel environments.
1993 - Incorporating a design element patented by Jim Feuling, the Feuling SS was the first high-speed aerodynamic helmet for well over 200 miles per hour. The helmet featured a front lip and rear wicker to reduce helmet lift and buffeting at high speeds.
1996 - Developed for high temperature/humidity racing, the Vortex Turbo Air was the first auto racing helmet to feature internal high-speed fans that directed airflow to the face and the shield for comfort and to prevent shield fogging.
1998 - Designed for closed cockpit forms of racing, the Air Extraction was the first helmet to generate ventilation by using fans to draw airflow through the helmet and out vents located in the top of the helmet to eliminate heat around the driver's head.


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