Roy Richter


Roy Richter

Roy Richter (died July 28 1983) was an early auto racer and the creator of Bell Helmets, and Cragar Equipment -- performance and wheels -- all sold through an auto parts company that he owned, Bell Auto Parts.

After graduating from high school in 1933, Richter started to work for George Wight as a pattern maker at Bell Auto Parts in Bell, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. He took up auto racing, driving his friend's Model T. Richter built the Bell Special, a midget racecar he called "Betsy" that was built from parts found in Bell's junkyard. It was the first of many Richter-built racecars and the one he would attempt a short professional auto racing career with. From 1937 to 1941, Richter-built cars won numerous championships, hundreds of races and set countless track records in several racing divisions. Richter sold his car and invested his life savings of $1,000 in purchasing Bell Auto Parts on July 2 1945.

Tragedy struck in 1946 when Roy's long-time friend, 'Swede' Lindskog was killed in a racing accident. It was Roy's second close friend to die while racing. After that incident, he committed himself to building safety and protective products. Bell Helmets was born.

In 1954, under the leadership of Richter, Bell began manufacturing its first helmet — the '500' — in a garage located behind Bell Auto Parts. In 1956, sales were above original projections and the Bell Helmet Company was formed as a division of Bell Auto Parts.

In 1955, Richter and Bell acquired the Cragar brand, later introducing the Cragar Equipment Company, today called Cragar Industries.

In 1964, under his Cragar company brand, Richter introduced the Cragar "S/S" Super Sport wheel, the most popular aftermarket and muscle car wheel ever made. It has since been used on thousands of cars, from show-quality custom hot rods to daily-driver classics.

In 1973, Richter was inducted into the Speed Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) Hall of Fame. When he retired in 1978, the 63-year-old was presented with a Yamaha trials bike by his employees. Richter died on July 28 1983.

Richter Hall at California Lutheran University is named in his honor.


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