Every helmet tells a story for Dario Franchitti. The Scot, winner of three Indianapolis 500s and four Indycar titles, has kept almost everything from his long and glittering career, including most of the ‘skid lids’ he wore when karting as a kid through to his years as one of the best and most successful drivers on the US scene.
“We joke about it,” says Franchitti, who recently shared the photo above on social media, featuring his prized collection of his own racing helmets. “We call it the ‘I love me’ room. But actually it’s now the ‘I love me’ building! Everything provokes a memory, whether it’s about a race or a friend, which becomes more important as I get older.”
Franchitti never was your typical modern racing driver, because he’s also a genuine motorsport fan, and his hoarding addiction stretches far beyond helmets, race suits and other trinkets from his own career. As he tells Autocar, some of his lids have been swapped for those of his old rivals, many racing friends and one or two from his heroes, too.
“I’ve got 82 of my own helmets,” he says. “I tried to keep everything. Along with the ones I’ve swapped, a couple are missing, because in the early days I had to sell them to buy the next one.”
The helmet rows go round almost four sides of a flight of stairs, apparently. “I’ve got them arranged in order of use,” he says. “The top shelf includes helmets from my first Indycar years, my first Kool [Team Green] helmet and, off to the right, my DTM and Formula 3 helmets. Below that, you can see some of the Andretti Green helmets, and at the bottom are some of the Target [Chip Ganassi Racing] ones. But the Indy 500 and championship winners are somewhere else. Those really special ones, I’ve got them hidden.”
A second picture he sends us shows some of the early lids, including those from before he adopted his signature design, which features the Scottish saltire combined with the colours of the Italian flag to represent his dual roots. “My first helmet is pretty special to me. I got it when I was 10,” he says. Another shot shows one with heavy scuff marks – the lid that saved his life when he was flipped on to his head at 215mph at Michigan Speedway in 2007. He admits the FYI Post-it note stuck on by his racer brother Marino is an unnecessary reminder.