The 2020 model year cars and trucks have been on dealer lots for months now, so where are the 2020 helmets?
Unlike the auto industry, the Snell Memorial Foundation sets a strict calendar for the testing, manufacture, and rollout of helmets certified to each 5-year SA standard. Snell SA-rated helmets are NEVER available before the year of the SA standard. To ensure a level playing field, Snell does not allow sales of the new helmets until the fall of the year of the SA standard. Sales of SA2020 helmets will not begin until October 2020.
Is anyone making SA2020 helmets yet?
Snell first released the SA2020 decals to manufacturers in April 2020, signalling that manufacturing (but not sales) could begin.
When can I buy an SA2020 helmet?
Snell will not allow manufacturers to advertise or sell their SA2020 approved helmets until October 1, 2020. If you need a new SA-rated helmet for the 2020 racing season, you will need to buy an SA2015 helmet.
Aren't the SA2015 helmets outdated?
The SA2015 standard will still be current for most racing organizations. Snell recommends that SA15-approved helmets in good condition should still be accepted (at least until the end of their recommended 5-year lifespan).
How long will an SA2015 helmet be good for?
Unfortunately, most racing organizations have not announced their changeover plans yet, so it is impossible to give a solid answer. Right now, we can only point to history and precedent.
In previous years, SCCA has accepted the current SA standard plus the previous standard (for 2019, that means SA15 and SA10). In the past, the rule has usually been updated to take effect after helmets with the newest standard have been available for one full year. For example, for the SA15 changeover, SA05 helmets were accepted until the beginning of 2017 (SA15 helmets went on sale in October 2015). For the SA20 changeover, SA2010 helmets will be accepted until January 1, 2022. If the SA25 changeover follows the same schedule, SA15 helmets should be accepted through the 2026 racing season.
Note that every racing organization is different. Please check your rulebook.
How is the Snell SA2020 standard different from the SA2015 standard?
SA2020 is very much an incremental change from SA2015. The primary aim was to bring the impact testing even more in line with FIA 8859-2015 requirements. All criteria will now be the same as or more stringent than FIA requirements. Note that Snell SA2020 certification does not automatically grant FIA homologation! A helmet which passes Snell SA2020 tests will theoretically pass FIA tests, but the helmet manufacturer must submit the helmet to the FIA in order to receive FIA homologation.
If I already have an SA2015 helmet, how long can I keep using it?
Even the best materials degrade over time, and the high-performance, lightweight materials in your helmet are no exception. Sunlight, ozone, perspiration, and even everyday bumps and knocks all take their toll on the shell and the inner liner. Snell recommends helmet replacement after 5 years of use, or immediately after any incident. Remember, the consequences of auto racing incidents can be violent and permanent. Only use safety equipment that is in top condition. When in doubt, replace it.
This article was first published on 7/23/2020.