Safety innovations and improvements have been the watchwords for NASCAR since the time of its inception. In recent years, however, such safety concerns have become paramount.
Drivers are now encircled in carbon-fiber fitted seats, wear thickly padded helmets along with fire-resistent suits and gloves, and they drive in arguably one of the safest race car designs ever—the "Car of Today."
Watching replays of crashes these past few years by Joey Logano, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Michael McDowell, and many others bear witness to this fact.
But those who seemingly take the most risk are those crew members who go "over-the-wall" at every pit stop. Pit road is a chaotic place with cars shooting by between 35-65 mph or higher, sliding to stops in and peeling out of pit boxes that are often small and narrow.
Wearing as much "body armor" as possible while still being able to perform their jobs as crew members is a necessity.
One can only imagine the number of concussions, skull fractures, and deaths that have been avoided by the requirement that all crew members who go over the wall wear proper head protection.
But mere functionality isn't enough anymore. The helmets have become in many ways both works of art and yet another way to display their sponsors as much as possible throughout a race broadcast.
What follows are the 20 helmet styles and designs I found to be most eye-catching as I wandered pit road at the Auto Club Speedway for the Pepsi 500.
Also, this group contains only a couple kinds of helmets; there were more but these were the most eye-catching. And as stated above, these are also the helmets that were used for the Pepsi 500.
This is important, as for the next race, some teams will be running different paint schemes—some even for different sponsors. And for some teams that means different pit crew helmet designs.
Although I did my best to capture the most representative sample of helmets from the teams that day, if I have left one out, please let me know.
All Photo Credits: M Brian Ladner