While helmets have been around since the beginning of auto racing, full face helmets are a relatively new phenomena, having only come around since the late 1960’s. With the advent of full-face helmets came the visor. Visors or face-shields, are clear pieces of plexiglass that cover the open area of the helmet. In addition to keeping wind and rain out of a driver’s eyes in open cockpits, they also shield the driver’s face from fire, and can be tinted for racing in sunlight. Each form of auto racing has their own quirks when it comes to face-shields. Face-shields are designed to snap closed, and they all feature holes for the connection to the helmet, holes to keep the visor closed, and handles to help open the visor. This week we will look at NHRA face shields.
Drivers in the professional categories of the NHRA have two choices of face-shield. There is the traditional face-shield that is similar to NASCAR or IndyCar, and then there is the style that looks more like sunglasses. This was popularized by the Simpson Bandit. Many drivers prefer the Bandit face shield. The Pedregon brothers are an example of this, with a couple of race-worn examples.
The first is a Simpson Bandit face shield, with PEDREGON on the visor stripe area, and it has been signed by Cruz and Tony Pedregon. It shows decent use. The second Pedregon face-shield is an unbranded Bandit-style visor, which shows decent use. It has been signed by Cruz Pedregon, and he inscribed “2X FC CHAMP.” This next example shows a helmet phenomena that is unique to drag racing. Many drivers like to use what Jack Beckman referred to as the “Clydesdale Effect.” It should be noted that in 2015 I interviewed Beckman. I asked him about the Clydesdale Effect, and he said that he didn’t use it, but he didn’t rule it out. He has since starting using the Clydesdale Effect. Drivers like parts of their visors blacked out, so they can only focus on the track. This TJ Zizzo tinted example shows how some drivers use the Clydesdale Effect.
Next week, the face-shield discussion continues with IndyCar face shields.