We were particularly excited to unearth this rare helmet. Genuine Les Leston Grand Prix helmets are hard to find and this one presented in reasonable condition, but had some distinctive markings and period features that we recognised as being unusual. Once the helmet had been acquired, from where it had been stored for nearly 50 years the process of research began with identifying the period of manufacture, as these helmets are rarely dated. This helmet is distinct in that it fits between the classic 'corker' style helmet worn by Stirling Moss and the later Everoak Grand Prix worn by Jim Clark and John Surtees, so we can place this helmet as being made between 1957 and 1959.
The helmet has some distinctive markings and unusual clips to the visor, so we took the helmet to Bill Vero, third generation helmet maker, he is probably the world authority on period racing helmets. He has authenticated period helmets from drivers including Mike Hawthorn, Jim Clark and Stirling Moss. He immediately identified the marks on the helmet as being evidence of being used at high speed in an open cockpit - something that is impossible to replicate any other way. He was also able to identify the clips on the visor as being the handiwork of his father.
With reference to period photography, he was able to match this helmet to photos of Jack using this helmet, who sported this distinctive black stripe over the top of the shell, with additional evidence including distinctive markings on the band, the position of the stud on the peak, the colour of the interior and the wear marks on the helmet shell.
Everitt W Vero & Co Ltd were a hat, cap and helmet manufacturing company, established in 1978 in South London. They produced a wide range of headwear, from tropical helmets, top hats, reinforced bowler hats to riding helmets and, by the early 1920’s Motorcycle TT helmets, flying helmets and early motor racing helmets.
The early years of motor racing were dangerous days, the only helmets available were often motorcycle helmets, or famously for Stirling Moss, a polo riding helmet with little protection except a lining of cork under a hard shell. It was E W Vero that introduced a helmet with temple protection in 1957, and this was taken up by several drivers on the circuit, including Mike Hawthorn who wore a ‘Racemaster’ to win the 1958 Formula 1 Championship with Ferrari. By the end of decade, Everoak was producing its next generation helmet, with more protection, deeper sides that covered the ears, and a scalloped back, this was the ‘Grand Prix’.
Jack Brabham helmet
“I have inspected this helmet is detail, the helmet is without doubt attributed to Jack Brabham and used between 1959 and 1962. The helmet shows several indications of having been made by my father, and with reference to period photography, I have been able to to conclude without doubt this helmet was owned and used by Jack Brabham:
Early in the development of the Jet style race helmet 1958-9 it was found that at very high speed air pressure caused the peak to move up the helmet. Two modifications were made; first a cord was fitted under the front rubber edge of the helmet causing a lip, and on the peak two Perspex clips were riveted onto blocks that fitted under the front edge of the helmet preventing lift. This is an early example of that work, carried out by my father and worn by Jack.
I have no hesitation in confirming the authenticity of this Jack Brabham helmet.”
Bill Vero (E W Vero), Everitt W Vero & Co Ltd.
Surrey, September 2020.
Sir John Arthur Brabham, was an Australian racing driver who was Formula One World Champion in 1959, 1960, and 1966. He was a founder of the Brabham racing team and race car constructor that bore his name.
Brabham was a Royal Australian Air Force flight mechanic and ran a small engineering workshop before he started racing midget cars in 1948. His successes with midgets in Australian and New Zealand road racing events led to his going to Britain to further his racing career. There he became part of the Cooper Car Company's racing team, building as well as racing cars. He contributed to the design of the mid-engined cars that Cooper introduced to Formula One and the Indianapolis 500, and won the Formula One world championship in 1959 and 1960.
In 1962 he established his own Brabham marque with fellow Australian Ron Tauranac, which in the 1960s became the largest manufacturer of customer racing cars in the world. In the 1966 Formula One season Brabham became the first – and still, the only – man to win the Formula One world championship driving one of his own cars. He was the last surviving World Champion of the 1950s.
Sir Jack Brabham signing for The Signature Store in 2013, at his home in Australia
Full certificates of authenticity will be issued with this helmet. This includes a letter from Bill Vero of Everoak Helmets stating this history of manufacture and process of identification of this helmet in period. This helmet comes with ownership provenance, stored since the very early 1970s by the previous owners, who had motor racing connections to Cooper Cars in Surbiton and to Ron Tauranac who formed Brabham Cars with Jack, who went on to be the only driver to win the Formula 1 World Championship in car bearing his own name and built in his own factory.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire a race-used, World Champion's helmet, with both provenance and certification. We know only a handful of Jack Brabham helmets survive, so this is a particularly exciting find and will be the centre piece of any collection. We will provide a case on request and additional reference material, including a signed copy of The Jack Brabham Story, his autobiography, which contains a photo of Jack wearing this helmet.
This helmet is sold.
Les Leston, Grand Prix helmet, race-used by Jack Brabham; unearthed in 2020 having been stored for nearly 50 years, this period helmet has been authenticated by Bill Vero of Everoak (who worked with his father in the Everoak factory that made all Les Leston helmets), as being a genuine race-used helmet, worm by Sir Jack Brabham.