F1 helmet and racewear company to become publicly owned

The company that designs and builds drivers’ helmets for half the Formula 1 grid is set to become publicly owned.

F1 helmet and racewear company to become publicly owned

The Racing Force Group, which owns brands including Bell helmets, OMP, Zeronoise and Racing Spirit have filed an IPO (Initial Public Offering) on the stock exchange to help raise investment for future growth and diversification.

For nearly 70 years Bell have been at the forefront of professional motorsport in both four and two-wheel categories, and today, over half of the Formula 1 drivers, including Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc and Nicholas Latifi, wear lids designed and manufactured by Bell Helmets.

In 2019 Bell Helmets was acquired by the Italian manufacturer OMP, which has been a worldwide leader in motorsport safety systems and apparel since 1973. Both firms now operate under the group of companies known as Racing Force.

“These two historic brands have a philosophy in safety and performance,” says Paolo Delprato, chairman and CEO of Racing Force Group.

“Through innovation we have been able to obtain success in motorsport and with the development of the younger Zeronoise and Racing Spirit brands this public offering gives us a perfect opportunity to increase the growth of our company.”

OMP was founded in 1973 and has been a leading motorsport manufacturer in safety, tailoring products for vehicles - such as roll bars, seats, steering wheels, harnesses and fire extinguisher systems - in addition to becoming an established provider of safety apparel for drivers, including fireproof overalls, gloves and shoes.

OMP have a long tradition in supporting champions such as Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and the Mercedes team in F1 and Sebastien Ogier and Tommi Makinen in the World Rally Championship.

Through the partnership with communication systems Zeronoise, the Racing Force company has successfully returned to the WRC this year with its bespoke open-face Bell helmet and integrated two-way radio intercom.

“The partnership of our brands has been incredibly successful thanks to our know-how and experience in the business of motorsport,” says Delprato. “But we want to continue to grow, not only by increasing our market share in the motorsport equipment business but to expand into other areas where safety and performance are fundamental.”

 

As part of the company’s public listing, Racing Force have been working on a research and development diversification programme. Their latest asset to the world of motorsport has been the ‘Drivers’ Eye’ micro camera.

After being pioneered in Formula E, it was first debuted by Fernando Alonso in August’s Belgian Grand Prix and was seen again in the most recent round of the World Endurance Championship. The Drivers Eye is just one example where Racing Force is beginning to expand its knowledge into other sectors of the industry.

“We are now speaking with other series who are interested in utilising this technology to offer live broadcasting from the perspective of the driver, thanks to the positioning of the micro camera inside the helmet,” says Delprato.

“Nobody else was able to develop this level of technology because they did not have the experience with regards to safety and working with an FIA homologated device. Bell Helmets are the only examples in the world to have this new feature.”

With the four brands - including the lifestyle apparel collections inspired by motorsport, Racing Spirit - the Racing Force Group of companies are based across three continents and have more than 400 employees made up of 30 different nationalities. In total Racing Force has over 2,000 products which it sells in 80 countries and plans to expand into new territories and across other disciplines of the sport.

“An investor will clearly see there is a bright future for this company as we continue to penetrate into established markets, work on the diversification of our products and continue to have sales like we have already witnessed in 2021 - 50 per cent up in the first part of the year,” says Delprato.

“Our company is growing rapidly and with the IPO we already have interest from a lot of international companies, so this milestone in Racing Force’s history is an exciting time and promises to yield a successful future.

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