The Helmet That Saved My Life

Shoei X-Eleven

RIDER: Larry Pegram
THEN: Test pilot for NASA's rocketless space-exploration program, Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, CA
NOW: American Superbike race winner, Road America, Elkhart Lake, WI

"We were running competitive lap times and had a good chance of winning that day. I wanted to get a good start after screwing up in Superpole and ending up on the second row. But instead of a good start, I got a bad start. I was thinking 'Crap, now I have to run it into the first corner hard.' I'm on the far inside, and my front wheel is even with Josh Hayes' rear all the way through that first long left-hander. Little did I know that outside of Josh was Geoff May...

'As soon as Josh hit the brakes, I was going to go up the inside so he couldn't come down and I'd have the line. He checked up and I went by just a little bit. But Geoff was coming down on him at the same time. All of a sudden, there was Geoff, going about 5 mph slower than I was. There was no way I was going to get it stopped in time, so I dynamited the brakes as hard as I could.

"The rear wheel lifted off the ground and went completely sideways. I was up the inside of the corner, so I couldn't go straight. When the rear wheel came back down and caught, I went to the moon. I remember everything all the way up to being in the air and thinking, 'Oh sh*t!' It's a little fuzzy after that. I _think_ I landed on my head, like I was diving into the track. My helmet didn't look that bad afterward. It did what it was supposed to do for sure. I got third the next day."