The NHRA requires helmets in every class. These helmets must be approved and meet SFI or Snell safety standards. Snell and SFI both have similar safety ratings, however, some testing protocols can vary. All Snell approved helmet models must be tested before being labeled as Snell M, SA, or K rated helmets. The Snell Memorial Foundation performs testing, and random testing annually on helmets with these ratings.
Snell M – “M” for motorcycle, or motorized vehicle. This rating requires helmets to have a wider eyeport that benefits motorcyclists, but does not require fire retardant materials to be used for all parts of the helmet such as the lining, and head restraint (chin strap)
Snell SA – “Special Application”. Helmets with the Snell SA approval are more specific for auto racing applications. These helmets must use fire retardant materials in the helmet lining, and rigorous testing is done to simulate roll bar impacts. SA approved helmets are available in full face and ¾ shell designs. Snell K – “Karting” helmets. These helmets meet very similar testing requirements as SA rated helmets, but these helmets are not required to use fire retardant materials.
SFI allows manufacturers to label helmets with SFI ratings under the condition that the helmet has been tested and meets their requirements. SFI 31.1 (current standard) – Adult auto racing helmets. Similar to Snell SA. SFI 41.1 (current standard) – Adult motorcycle racing helmets. Similar to Snell M. SFI 24.1 – Youth racing helmets
NHRA 2020 Helmet Rules
For all 10.00 to 13.99 closed-bodied cars, either an open-face or a full-face Snell M2010, M2015, SA2010, SA2015, SFI 31.1/2010 or 31.1/2015 helmet with or without a shield is mandatory.
For all 10.00 and slower dune-buggy-type vehicles and all 10.00 to 13.99 open-bodied front-engine or rear-engine supercharged, turbocharged, nitrous, or naturally aspirated cars, a full-face Snell M2010, M2015, SA2010, or SA2015 helmet and shield mandatory (goggles prohibited).
For all 9.99 and quicker closed-bodied cars, a full-face Snell M2010, M2015, SA2010 or SA2015 helmet mandatory; shield permitted (goggles prohibited).
For all 9.99 and quicker open-bodied front-engine or rear-engine supercharged, turbocharged, or nitrous cars, a full-face Snell SA2010, or SA2015 helmet and shield mandatory (goggles prohibited).
For all 9.99 or quicker open-bodied front-engine or rear-engine naturally aspirated cars, a full-face Snell M2010, M2015, SA2010, or SA2015 helmet and shield mandatory (goggles prohibited).