Breaking down the rules series: Part 1 Snell Ratings Explained

Helmet SafetyHelmet Safety

The 2014 KAM Kartway rules have been posted for a month now and there have still been a lot of questions so I thought I’d break some important policy changes down in a series of blog posts.  The first one I’d like to talk about is in the Safety Section and is related to Helmets.  I have mentioned in the past, the Snell ratings were subject to change – so

…let’s talk Helmets and the rating changes.

The rule is: Full-faced helmets designed for competitive motorsport use are required and must comply with the Snell Memorial Foundation’s helmet standards and current rating specs. Please NOTE: As of 2-15-14 ratings for Snell SA2005 and K2005 have been extended and are compliant thru 12/20/15 for “go-Karts” and Champ (Outlaw) Karts.  Snell SA2002 & M2000 are no longer permitted.  KAM Kartway will allow the K’s in all but the Animal and Gold Plate – those REQUIRE the SA rating. The SA2010 is preferred for all classes due to additional standards required for our application (ie: fire resistance standards and testing as well as roll bar impact testing.)   Helmets must be secured with a strap.  A full face shield, integral with the helmet is mandatory.


First of all for those who are new to racing, motorsports or karting specifically the Snell Safety rating system on helmets is the industry standard and is by far the best authority on total safety standards of helmet use in competitive automotive sports.  They test helmets based on strength, destruction, protective capacity, extent of protection and fire resistance.


Helmets meeting all 5 of these areas are the ones that we would like to see all our drivers use and are distinguished by the Foundation’s orange SN2010 certification label. The another certifications that are acceptable for use by most classes and meet the first 4 requirements is the light blue certification K.  While K is for “Karting” it is not tested for flame resistance or roll cage safety.  Even though we race karts, and excluding the adult flat karts, our kart chassis set ups do not meet the definition of “go-kart” Snell has set. Dirt karts with roll cages and extra seat belting like our karts fall under their “Champ Kart” definition which falls under the SA rating label. Please visit the Snell Foundation for all your Snell ratings and standards questions. There are also reprints on our Forms page for you to review. snell-img If any of this is confusing to you, or you just want my opinion on what to get when looking for a new helmet– please chose the Snell SA2010 certification (SA is required for Animal & Gold Plate), especially if you or your child is racing a cage kart (ie: QRC Outlaw). 

The reasoning behind this is:

  1. The SA2010 rating level has been tested for flame resistance (ie: whether the helmet will withstand exposure to direct flame).
  2. Cage kart drivers are belted in with a 5 point harness and arm restraints which obviously requires more time to get out of the kart if they crash.
  3. While it’s mandatory for the Animal & Gold Plate classes because of the methanol the possibility of other karts catching on fire in a crash, although very slight, is still a possibility – and the other certifications have not been tested for flame resistance.
  4. The M class helmet is tested for Motorcycles and Motosports (ie: dirt bikes) and most are not full face, which is mandatory and a rule at KAM Kartway.

Now there are other elements to look at when choosing a helmet in addition to safety – like fit, comfort and style.  And there a lot of choices out there as well with prices ranging from $170 to $850.  While your child’s head is priceless, the Simpson $850 model may be out of your reach, there are more affordable helmet options and Zamp is one that I recommend.  Whatever your budget, please let KAM Karting Supply help you with your helmet purchase. (Disclaimer: I work for KAM Karting Supply too!)

So to recap:

  • The Snell Foundation ratings for K2005 & SA2005 are acceptable until 12-20-15.
  • The “SA” certification is mandatory for Gold Plate Animal and Stock Animal, and preferred for all classes at KAM Kartway.
  • If purchasing a new helmet for the season look for the 2010 rating and again the SA2010 is the best choice.

The Snell Memorial Foundation, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to research, education, testing and development of helmet safety standards. Since its founding in 1957, Snell has been a leader in helmet safety in the United States and around the world.