French race wear and safety equipment company Stand 21 is celebrating its 50th anniversary. For half a century the company has been making motorsport a safer place. Their helmets, suits and other safety accessories are a staple of the industry and worn by many champions around the world. To celebrate this milestone, we sat down with CEO and founder Yves Morizot.
Yves, looking back fifty years. What was it like to start your company?
When I started my company in 1970 the world of motorsport and the cars were very different. In essence they were soup cans with a big engine strapped to them. It was a little more complicated than that obviously, but from a safety standpoint there was very little equipment. There was no FIA safety standard or nothing. Drivers often raced in open face helmets wearing a single-layer cotton racing suit. At that time drivers embraced danger and accepted the fact that they might die for their sport. I wanted to help change that.
In the last fifty years what has been the most significant change in motorsport safety technology?
The entire sport has changed. The tracks and cars have changed. The mentality of drivers has changed. Drivers no longer accept death as a possibility and they would much rather return to their families in one piece. Unfortunately, fatal accidents still happen now and then but the entire sport has made an effort to make racing much, much safer. When we look at a single piece of technology that made a big impact in the sport it is without a doubt the HANS system (Head and Neck Support). I’m 100% sure that this device, which we helped develop back in the 80s, saves lives around the world every weekend. Back in the day, when we were launching it, people first thought it was the silliest thing they had ever seen, but honestly, it’s not hard to see the results. Opinions changed quickly.
Where do you see Stand 21 going the next 50 years? And how do you think driver safety can improve?
I believe the company is at a steady pace and I’m confident my family will continue it for a very long time. I think we reached a good standard when it comes to safety on track. The biggest difference now in comparison to the past is the fact that there is way more race drivers from all ages. In the past most racers started karting at age of five or eight. These days you’ve got drivers who start at the age of forty. So-called gentlemen drivers. That’s a great addition for the sport but it’s important to educate these drivers because they skip the whole karting period and go straight into a GT4 or GT3 race car. In the future proper education will be key.
Motul and Stand 21 have a very strong connection. What does Motul mean to you?
Motul and Stand 21 have a shared philosophy and a strong passion for motorsport. We started working with Motul a long time ago and up until this day the company is run in exactly the same way as our own. A family business with very strong values.
© Picture credits : Autosportmedia, Stand21 website