ICON: The Star-Spangled Helmet
Brilliant white stars on a blue background—how did Porsche legend Hans-Joachim Stuck’s iconic helmet design come about?
Brilliant white stars on a blue background, around the visor. Porsche legend Hans-Joachim “Strietzel” Stuck’s helmet is unmistakable: its individual design enables fans to identify the driver at first glance. Without the help of his then-girlfriend Annemarie “Mucki” Buchner, the stars would not have been added—a revolutionary idea in 1969. “Mucki and I were sitting in a hotel room in Hockenheim with this innovative, full-face helmet that my outfitter had given to me,” recalls Stuck today, some fifty years later. “The blue metallic paint was very nice, but we wondered what else could be done—and then Mucki suddenly came up with the idea of the stars.”
Stuck’s girlfriend went to a stationery shop not far from the racetrack, bought white adhesive foil, painted freehand stars on the back with a pencil, cut them out with nail scissors, and glued them around the visor. The result was one of the most striking helmet designs in motorsport history—and one of the most successful. The “King of Hockenheim,” as Porsche factory driver Stuck was called due to his many successes on that racetrack, won numerous titles wearing his star-studded helmet: in 1985 he became long-distance world champion together with his teammate Derek Bell; in 1986 and 1987, Stuck, together with Bell and Al Holbert, won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Porsche 962 C. Stuck caused a sensation with his helmet not only in Germany, but also during his time active in the USA. Did the Americans like the helmet so much because of the white stars on a blue background, reminiscent of their national flag? “I don't know,” says Stuck, now sixty-eight. “But the American flag wasn’t actually Mucki’s inspiration anyway.”
Stuck’s sons, Ferdinand (28) and Johannes (33), are continuing the family helmet tradition. Their father officially ended his career in 2011 at the twenty-four-hour race at the Nürburgring in a joint start with both of them. When Ferdinand and Johannes race today, they always wear a star helmet, but with a slightly different design. “They have white stripes in addition to the stars,” says their father. “I’m very happy that they’re continuing the tradition.”