Honoring One of the Few

Indy 500 racer James Davison unveils a slick new helmet design paying tribute to his grandfather – a Battle of Britain fighter pilot.

With a family tree burgeoning with successful motor racing resumés, the DNA of Aussie racecar pilot James Davison must include a special speed gene. And as he circles the legendary Brickyard this month in an attempt to qualify for the 103rd Indianapolis 500, he will be paying special tribute to his grandfather, Tony Gaze, who raced across the skies above England during World War II.

Gaze flew a sleek British fighter plane, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) three times while defending Britain against waves of attacking German aircraft. Nicknamed “The Few” by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, many of the brave RAF airmen piloted the exquisitely-designed Supermarine Spitfire, which ranks as one of the most elegant combat flying machines in history.

Supermarine Spitfire

Photo: John M. Dibbs

Painted in a gray and olive-green camouflage color scheme, and adorned with the iconic RAF “roundel” graphic symbol, the Spitfire is one of history’s most awe-inspiring images. Drawing from that historic design, Davison’s new helmet features a similar camouflage background pattern with bold and colorful roundels on each side that are easily identifiable even at the Brickyard’s 200-plus mile per hour speeds.

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The tribute design also includes a realistic rendering of the DFC medal draped across the top of the helmet. And in a nod to his Aussie heritage, white kangaroo silhouettes in full stride grace each side of the helmet below the visor.

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Helmet Photos: Motorsport.com

With the blur of complex and constantly changing helmets that fail to present and maintain driver visual identities these days, it’s nice to see a winning design that could buck that trend. I’d like to see this become Davison’s signature helmet instead of just a one-off design. Maybe a trip to victory lane and a splash of milk would be enough to convince him.

– SBJ

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