Head and Neck Protection

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    Sheldon Potter

    Howdy – I’m researching an upgrade to head and neck protection over my current foamy donut.

    Numerous Ekarting news posts articulate a wide variety of opinions, from “Absolutely the Leatt” to “Absolutely the Valhalla 360…” to “We don’ need no steenkin neck protection (aka Earnhardt Sr.’s machismo pespective on this, at least up until he had the unfortunate opportunity to actually test that theory out at Daytona – once)”, etc.

    So, what’s prevailing local attitude about this? Primarily, I gather, it’s the Leatt vs. Valhalla vs. nothing question. Clearly I’m not in the “nothing” contingent; as an official Geezer (60 Y.O.), my bones are too brittle to be macho anymore.

    Any actual supporting data anywhere?

    Any thoughts regarding unintended side effects of these, such as less support while driving (possible increased neck fatigue), collar bone injuries in wrecks, restrictions to driver head rotation vs. visibility, etc.?

    Also, regarding local, cost effective, suppliers of same, best sources? I prefer to support local folks if possible.


    Sheldon Potter

    [email protected]


    Here’s the site for the HANS device, which I believe was the original of its type:

    I don’t know if this particular product is applicable to karting or not…. but for your general questions and test results, I’d ask for Jim Downing. He was a co-creator of the HANS, is in his upper 60s I think, and still races CSR in SCCA Club races. I spoke with him about his product when it first came out (he was a test rabbit of sorts), and again a couple years ago at a race. His safety commitment is admirable, and his test results significant.

    I think he’s been at this for nearly 20 years and all racers owe him a debt of gratitude for the many injuries he has prevented. Plus he’s a good guy and is likely the world’s best resource for your questions.

    Your Earnhardt analogy is 100% correct, as is your preference to support Colorado kart shops.

    Great Topic, by the way.

    Doug Welch

    @Sheldon Potter wrote:

    Any actual supporting data anywhere?

    There is no independent data regarding the effectiveness of a neck brace/collar as it relates to karting. (Cars is a different matter.) In Europe, they are not required and very few are in use. To my knowledge, there is no difference in neck injuries between the US and the rest of the world.


    Hi Sheldon,

    I use the Leatt brace. I don’t have any data as to how effective it is compared to other devices. I used to use the “foamy doughnut” and I noticed that when I switched to the Leatt my neck got a little more tired for the first couple of races afterwards. So, I guess the doughnut was giving a little more support to my neck in the corners than I realized. My neck muscles quickly got stronger, though, so it’s not a problem. Head movement is really free with the Leatt and I usually forget that I’m even wearing it. About the only movement it restricts is looking downward (like if I’m trying to see how much fuel is left in the tank).


    Joe Rosse

    I couldn’t find any data either, and eventually went with the Armadillo for Pat because I like and trust their products. Pat lost a tire and spun very hard–backwards–into the plastic barriers at the Pepsi Center race last year. The corner worker commented that it was a really good thing he was wearing the brace, and he was just fine afterwards (not so the kart). Who knows if it really helped, but I was glad I plunked down the $$$. (Granted, rearward moving accidents aren’t too common in karting, of course….) He likes it because it’s a lot cooler and he feels his mobility is a bit better with it.


    The hans will not work since it requires the use of a seatbelt to hold it down against the body. I too would be curious to know if any of the karting braces truely work?

    Derick “Brian” Moore

    Father of Brandon Moore #77 legends

    [email protected]


    Thanks…. and Yep, forgot about the belt connection with the HANS!

    But being the original, with tons of testing, they’d still be a good resource in general terms for the safety gains of a head-neck restraint. Maybe they could be convinced to make a karting version, they have the resources now and must be miles ahead of the rest with sales, testing, and history behind them. I can’t remember the number, but was shocked when Jim Downing told me how many they’d made and sold. He’s a pretty brilliant guy, a multi-time champion, and has decades of pro racing experience behind him.

    So while karting carries with it special circumstances, an impact of g-force is consistent across all racing. Doesn’t matter what vehicle one crashes. Karters would benefit much from accessing other forms of racing having much more funding behind them. To overlook that may be short-sighted.

    Whenever I race again, I’ll be buying whatever head-neck restraint is the best — like I’ve always done with helmets. One can’t overspend on safety…. it only seems financially excessive until you really need it.

    Sheldon Potter

    Thanks, all, for your replies. It’s always nice to know that even as a casual karter – i.e. have not become part of the official racing fraternity through participation in organized events – I can, nonetheless, always count on good input from you guys.

    I’ve decided upon a Leatt, and hope to report any impressions of my own that seem relevant to usability and safety once I have a chance to give it a whirl.

    ITMT, I have big plans for the foam donut. Being 60, I tend to drop off while watching Top Gear or B&W T.V. classics from my era. My couch is close to a hard ledge, which, previously without anything to hold up my head, I’ve just bounced my head off of when the sandman comes. Now, with my foamy collar free for T.V. watching protection, I can blissfully nod off without fear of banging my head anymore.

    Sheldon Potter

    Kirk Deason

    Sheldon, PROTIP: add a towel to that neck donut to catch the drool for those inevitable naps.

    [email protected]

    In addition to Kirk’s idea…. perhaps a helmet for full, instant-nap protection???

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