"Ron Dennis said that when he was the boss of McLaren Racing and watching Ayrton Senna in his early career, he saw a driver with pace, dedication, but also a driver with huge intellect. When I interviewed Ashley Sutton at "
Helmet painting – Rennat Design
What design would you commission?
This time around we’re featuring helmets – and these safety devices are more than just practical, they’re art. More than that, for a professional race driver or rider they’re also their trademarks – their identities whilst their faces are masked.
We spoke to Joe Tanner of Rennat Design – the man behind some massive names in motorsport including around half the BTCC grid, like Adrian Flux-backed Ash Sutton – for some insider info.
Influx: How did you start designing and painting helmets?
Joe Tanner: “I work as a full-time race instructor at Knockhill but always had an interest in art having been to art college after school, I started painting as a hobby and did a design for my friend Rory Butcher in 2009, then it just took off, I was full-time painting helmets within six months of that first design.”
Influx: Have you got a favourite design you’ve done for someone else?
JT: “I did a helmet for Lando Norris a few years ago when he did the Macau F3 race, it’s probably my favourite, it has a roulette table on top and the Macau skyline on the rear, it also won us the Europe helmet painter of the year award in 2016 which was pretty cool.”
Influx: Do you have a personal design for yourself?
JT: “Yes but it old now, I really need a new one but I’m to busy painting for my customers to find the time!”
Influx: What’s the trickiest design you’ve had to do?
JT: “Ash Sutton’s are always tricky, he likes a lot of detail and some difficult effect to get right.”
Influx: How much does a bespoke helmet paint cost?
JT: “Anywhere between £450-£1500 depending on how complex the design is and the detail involved.”
Influx: How much input do you put into designs like Ash Sutton’s special anniversary ‘black and white’ helmet?
JT: “Ash works closely with Miles Murphy at MDM designs to create a computer-generated image before I start to paint, however, I add a few small tweaks and effects myself once I get going.”
Influx. What kind of helmets can and can’t be painted?
JT: “These days we can paint just about everything out there.”
Influx: Have you got any upcoming projects you’re allowed to tell us about?
JT “I just got a new Stilo shell for Jamie Chadwick which I’m looking forward to doing, Jamie has a rough outline of a design which features the JC on the side but she lets me get a bit creative with it, which is normally how we end up with something cool…”
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