Do you need a helmet for Nurburgring tourist driving or trackdays? In this article we explain the different Nurburgring helmet rules for both types of driving at the Ring. We also look at the rules for HANS devices and discuss whether or not it’s safer to wear a helmet in a road car.
do you need a helmet for Nurburgring Touristenfahrten?
The Nurburgring Nordschleife during touristenfahrten (tourist driving) is classed as a public road. If you read the official rules safety regulations for tourist driving on the Nurburgring, you will see the very first point is that the German Road Traffic Ordinance (StVO) shall apply. As expected, the German road regulations do not require car drivers to wear helmets in their car.
The Nurburgring helmet rules follow suit: car drivers are not required to wear a helmet during tourist driving at the Nurburgring. But they can wear a helmet if they choose (more on this choice further down the page). This applies to both the Nordschleife and the GP Track tourist sessions.
do you need a helmet for Nurburgring track days?
Yes. Nurburgring track days are like track days anywhere else – a minimum level of personal safety equipment is mandated by the track day organisers. This will always include helmets. Different track day organisers may have different policies on open face / full face helmets for drivers of enclosed cabin cars, so be sure to check with the organisers before hand if you are unsure. Most track day organisers will have helmets you can rent on the day, but again check before booking.
do Motorbike riders need to wear a helmet at the Nurburgring?
Yes. Of course. For both tourist driving and track days, motorbike riders are required to wear a full face helmet when riding on the Nordschleife or GP track. Nurburgring helmet rules for motorbike riders are no different to German road laws for tourist driving, or any other motor bike track event when on a Nurburgring track day. And regardless of what the rules say, you’d be crazy not to wear one anyway, whether you’re going for a gentle ride out of trying to break the Nurburgring bike lap record.
are HANS devices allowed at the nurburgring during tourist driving?
A HANS device is a type of frontal head restraint that is designed to prevent over-extension of the neck during a frontal collision by restricting the movement of the helmet. These devices are placed over your shoulders, strapped down underneath your racing harness and attach to the rear sides of your helmet. They were designed for motorsport use to prevent neck and spine injuries, and have been incredibly successful at doing so. Check out the image below to see the reduction in neck extension when wearing a HANS during a 40mph frontal collision.
They work by limiting the forward movement of your head in the event of a collision with two straps that attach to your helmet. This video graphically shows just how effective they are.
By nature of this design, they also greatly restrict your ability to rotate your head. Rotating your head during road driving is important to be able to look over your shoulder, especially when changing lanes.
As mentioned earlier, during tourist driving the Nurburgring is classed as a public road. Specifically a two-lane, one-way toll road. Cars are supposed to stick to the right unless overtaking on the left. So lane-changing is deemed to be an important part of the German road laws that govern tourist driving. The HANS device restricts your ability to look over your shoulder during those lane changes.
As such, for Nurburgring tourist driving, drivers are not allowed to wear HANS devices (or any other similar type of frontal head / neck restraint).
In an interview, however, the Nurburgring head marshal did comment that passengers are allowed to wear them as the limited head rotation is not a problem.
can you use a helmet cam on the Ring?
This one seems to depend on the marshals on any given day. Read our full article on the Nurburgring filming and camera rules for a more in-depth answer.
can i wear a HANS device on a nurburgring track day?
Yes. All Nurburgring track day organisers will allow you to wear a HANS device. You should only do so, however, if your car is fitted with a racing harness. The shoulder straps of the racing harness are required to clamp the HANS device to your shoulders. You will also need a helmet that is certified as being HANS compatible and has the correct mounting posts.
should I wear a helmet?
Nurburgring helmet rules state helmets are not required during tourist driving but they are allowed. Whether or not you should wear one depends on a few factors, and your personal preference. Robert Mitchell summarises some of the different options in the below video.
Here are some points to consider when trying to decide whether or not to wear a helmet during tourist driving on the Nurburgring:
- Firstly, does wearing a helmet put you in race mode and make you push that little bit too hard on track? Does it make you think you’re the King of the Green Hell and want to race everything and anything you come across on track? If so, you are not alone. The potential over-enthusiastic mindset shift of donning your helmet might be enough to dissuade you from wearing it.
- Is your car stock with airbags and has a normal 3-point inertia reel seatbelt? If so, the standard car safety systems of airbags and seatbelts are there to protect you as they would on the road. Wearing a helmet in this scenario will still allow these safety systems to act properly. It may also have the added benefit of providing additional protection to your head where it may otherwise have hit the side window. However, it does also add some mass to your head which would be multiplied in the event of a high-G force impact, which could lead to additional neck extension in a lateral impact.
- Is your car a convertible, soft-top or lack rollover protection? Maybe a helmet is a worthwhile consideration in that case.
- If you have a full rollcage, hitting your head against it during a collision could be pretty catastrophic. The same could be said for any flailing limbs in the event of a big shunt. Your cage should be padded in areas close the occupant’s heads, but a helmet may well prevent a head-to-cage impact.
- Do you have a racing harness? These prevent your body from moving during a collision, but do nothing to prevent your head and neck from over-extending. On a trackday or in motorsport, harnesses need to be used with a helment and a HANS device to provide total body and head restraint. However, HANS devices aren’t allowed during tourist driving. Using a harness either with or without a helmet, but in either case without a HANS is risky as your head is not prevented from extending forwards. Even if your car still has a steering wheel airbag, the harness will keep your body pinned in your seat. In that scenario, your head would have further to travel to reach the airbag. Normal 3-point inertia reel seatbelts are designed to have some ‘give’ – to extend the collision duration and to bring you a little closer to the airbag. Racing harnesses do not have this give.
The Nurburgring helmet rules are in line with German StVO road rules. Helmets are not mandatory for car drivers during Touristenfahrten, but they are allowed. You should use some of the points above to weigh up the pros and cons of wearing one, depending on your car’s safety features and seat / seatbelt arrangements. Providers of Nurburgring Taxi rides, or the companies that offer Nurburgring car rental packages may have their own specific requirements.
Helmets are required during Nurburgring track days. HANS devices are not permitted during tourist driving, but are allowed during Nurburgring track days.
Now you know the helmet rules, also check out the rules on the noise limits at the ‘Ring so you’re not caught out.