22 Famous Names In One Place Not Worthless

By Stan Creekmore
Senior Editor

Almost a decade ago, Al Pearce, a writer in the world of NASCAR since 1969, came up with what he believed was a good idea. After all, who wouldn't want a helmet signed by 22 Formula One racing champions?

Sotheby's, a multi-national corporation,  sold the helmet in Monte Carlo on May 14 at the selling price of  $13,207.  It was less than Pearce hoped to raise for the 

Niki Lauda (L) and Al Pearce pose for a photo with the helmet.
Image courtesy of Al Pearce
Petty Charity Ride, the Victory Junction Camp, The Jimmie Johnson Foundation and The Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation, it was still the largest amount ever paid for one of the autographed helmets he collected and sold for charity.

Mario Andretti poses with the driver's helmet.
Image courtesy of Al Pearce

It took Pearce several years to accumulate the autographs from drivers who spend a tremendous amount of their lives outside the United States.

Pearce made several trips to Europe to collect the signatures and quickly points out not a single driver stood him up.

During the time it took to get the autographs, two of the champions, Phil Hill and Sir Jack Brabham passed away, but not until they had signed the helmet.

“Michael Schumacher, Sir Jackie Stewart, Alain Prost, Niki Lauda, Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Nelson Piquet, Lewis Hamilton, John Surtees, Emerson Fittipaldi, et al. agreed to meet me at specific places on specific days, often scheduling our meetings months and months ahead of time,” Pearce said. 

Michael Schumacher signs the driver's helmet.
Image courtesy of Al Pearce
“None of them stood me up or made me wait more than a few minutes. Their hospitality and acceptance of me and my project were gratifying, to say the least.

Hell, getting to Schumacher [before his 2014 injury] was easier than getting to Tony Stewart.”

Stewart actually purchased a signature laden helmet from Pearce, one he doubted Pearce could actually make happen – a helmet signed by the living winners of the Indianapolis 500.

While the helmet signed by the 22 Formula One champions is now in a location of which Pearce is unaware, he is still extremely proud of his accomplishment.

Look around the world, somewhere sits the helmet, the only one ever done, with the signatures of 22 of the most accomplished drivers in all of racing.

A true piece of history.
July 5, 2016