Wear Your Helmet to Work Day: an inspiring story takes top prize

David S.
By David S. Wallens
Oct 18, 2021 | Wear Your Helmet to Work Day, #WearYourHelmetToWork

One item that shows the rest of the world you really, really like motorsports? The ubiquitous helmet.

Once a year, we invite everyone to wear their helmets–publicly–to proclaim that love. This year’s Wear Your Helmet to Work Day Presented by Stilo took place October 15–and “work” in this context means basically whatever participants do during the day.

Entries poured in: helmeted people behind desks, helmeted people building things, helmeted people on Zoom calls. A few dudes were sitting on the can, helmeted. A brand-new Stilo helmet goes to the winner as selected by the GRM crew.

One entry stood out this year, quickly catching the attention of both the staff and the motorsports community. It came from Mark Petronis, owner of Corvette tuning house AMT Motorsport.

That’s not custom paintwork on his helmet. That’s fire damage. On May 23 at New Jersey Motorsports Park, Mark went off track–backward–at more than 100 mph, registering about 95g on impact. Safety workers estimated that he spent 60 to 90 seconds inside his burning Corvette. Doctors surmised that cockpit temperatures reached 1600 degrees. A quality racing suit at least kept the flames off his skin.

Mark spent three weeks on a ventilator, nearly lost his arm, and came dangerously close to kidney failure. The soot and chemicals he breathed in from the fire gave him pneumonia. He says that recovery will take years: physical therapy, scar revisions, burn management and more.

In the clinical sense I was 32% burned, meaning 32% of my body is third- and second-degree burns which needed medical attention,” he posted after the incident. “I have lots more burns on my body than just 32%, but they can heal without major medical intervention. However, my legs, chest, back, neck, arms and hands were all burned. My feet got away unscathed, and while my face did look like Freddy Krueger for a couple weeks, it did not sustain any third-degree burns and has miraculously recovered. Burns to the face are a very difficult mental and emotional hurdle to overcome for burn survivors. I have a lot of scars that I’ll keep for the rest of my life, but I’m just thankful that’s not one of them. For that I give credit to a Nomex balaclava and a very well-fitting Stilo helmet.”

For his submission, Mark will win a brand-new helmet from Stilo.

Here are a few more of our favorite entries from this year:

As well, you can view all of the entries by clicking here.

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View comments on the GRM forums
preach (fs)
preach (fs) GRM+ Memberand Dork
10/15/21 4:50 p.m.

Bravo Mark! Congrats.

eastpark HalfDork
10/15/21 5:34 p.m.

Indeed! Excellent submission Mark! I hope your recovery is going well. 

captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/15/21 6:25 p.m.

Probably the best entry in the history of the event, and there have been some excellent ones. 

Big6Mark New Reader
10/15/21 7:34 p.m.

Well deserved honor, Mark.

Should be good for a sponsorship!

Almost felt like I shouldn't enter at all after seeing that.

Cactus HalfDork
10/15/21 7:44 p.m.

I saw that, knew the story, and yeah. He deserves a new helmet.

Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
10/16/21 3:33 a.m.

Holy crap, that is a submission!  Congratulations, and here's wishing you a full and speedy recovery.

hybridmomentspass Reader
10/16/21 9:59 a.m.

No one else could have been a better winner in this giveaway.

Godspeed on your (further) recovery

AMT Motorsport
AMT Motorsport New Reader
10/17/21 8:23 p.m.

Thanks all for the support and thanks GRM and Stilo for running the promotion! Honestly after what my head and face endured with the Stilo brain bucket, I'll never wear anything else.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/20/21 9:30 a.m.

In reply to AMT Motorsport :

Glad you're still here with us, Mark. It's a harrowing story and a reminder that safety gear is paramount. 

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