Dan Binks was no stranger to professional auto racing. Back in the 1980s, he was Tommy Kendall’s crew chief when Kendall dominated IMSA’s GTU division in a Mazda RX-7. Binks had also worked on Jack Roush’s NASCAR team during the 1990s. By March 2003, he faced a new challenge. The 12 Hours of Sebring would be his first race as crew chief and tire changer on the Corvette Racing No. 3 car.
The helmet that Binks wore on that memorable day is our August Artifact of the Month. Painted yellow to match the car, the famous Corvette crossed flags appear prominently on the front of the helmet. A checkered flag pattern swoops around the sides to the back, leaving just enough room for an American flag emblem and grinning skull and crossbones above the nickname “Big Daddy.” Complete with a set of goggles, this helmet is generously on loan from Binks himself. He joins John Amgwert and David Wickman in the Corvette Hall of Fame class of 2023.
Binks used this helmet from his first race at Sebring through the end of the 2008 ALMS season at Laguna Seca. It bears the markings of a long career in motorsports. Along with the usual dents, scuffs, and scratches, the helmet displays an impressive set of autographs. They include racing legends Jackie Stewart and Phil Hill, motorsports journalist Chris Economaki, and astronaut Bruce Melnick.
Binks and the No. 3 Corvette team won that race at Sebring. After the No. 4 Corvette dropped out in the 11th hour with a gearbox problem, the No. 3 took over the lead in the GTS class and led the rest of the way. It was the first victory for Binks on the Corvette team, but far from the last. He remained the crew chief of the No. 3 until his retirement in 2020, becoming one of the most respected members of Corvette Racing. Binks is celebrated today for his mechanical skills and efficient pit stop coordination. His helmet is a unique piece of Corvette racing history, and a reminder of how races are often won in the pits.”