May 26th 2020
5 Questions with Racing Industry Executive Yves Morizot As Stand 21 Celebrates 50 Years
As founder and CEO of Stand 21, located in Talant, France, Yves Morizot is always thinking of ways to keep race car drivers safe. He’s a safety pioneer who has saved countless lives over a long career, shaping what is now one of the oldest and most vital producers of safety-wear worldwide.
A long-time love of racing led him to a fateful day at a race track near Dijon, where Formula 3 driver Jean-Pierre Cassegrain’s car went off the track and caught fire. Morizot helped extract the badly burned driver from his car, and the experience affected him profoundly. It ultimately led him to abandon the career he had as a baker to build safe race suits instead.
The company was founded in 1970, and by 1977, he was dressing over 80% of Formula 1 drivers in his innovative, multi-layer, fire-resistant suits. While making them safe was key, he also addressed driver concerns with heat retention, studying the way the Touareg people in the Saharan desert dressed to stay cool, and introducing the way their clothing was constructed to his line.
From the suits, Morizot moved on to include racing gloves, and innovative helmets. The helmets focused on resistance to and stability from impact, as well as a thicker visor to protect against projectiles, all while remaining light and aerodynamic—as well as comfortable.
Stand 21 is also one of just two companies licensed to design and produce HANS devices, which are identified as Stand 21 FHR (frontal head restraint) in the company's product lineup.
Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, today the company is also making masks for the local community’s health care workers and first responders, along with their own employees and other workers, to help protect them during the pandemic. The dynamic Morizot has also just finished writing a book about his life.
Tell us your story of how you got started in the racing industry.
I was 23, and a baker with a family bakery in Dijon. I loved racing and was at the race track in Dijon, when there was a big crash and one of the racers was badly injured. It was terrible. I said I wanted to make safety suits for these people.
And that is how I came to be involved in the racing business. We moved quickly. In 1975, a young French driver in Formula 1 was wearing a suit from me. That started things. We became very popular, and in three or four years, everyone was wearing my racing suits.
How did I do it? Well, when you want something, you can do it. 1970 wasn’t like today. At that time, you had to be strong and aggressive, and then you do what you want to do, and put your heart into it. I was working 14 hours a day, because when you want to achieve something, you have to put your power into doing that.
What is the most exciting thing to you about the motorsports industry today?
What is great and exciting today is that lots of people all around the world are racing. You have professional racing like NASCAR and Formula 1, and you have maybe 10,000 people being paid to race. But millions more are racing for fun, millions. That is what is good and exciting now. You can go and race with your friends, have a great time, and be safe.
Those millions of drivers want to race and play; have a good day, a good time, and come home to their families, to their wives and homes. It isn’t like the 1970s; today many good people can race, enjoy themselves, spend time with friends in a good level of safety.
What motivates you daily in your job?
I love working with my son, Romain. I have been working with my very well-educated son now for 20 years. He knows all my friends, and I love spending time with him, and I love sharing my experience with him and talking to him. I love to give what I’ve learned.
I stopped school when I was 17 years old, but I love to transmit my know-how. I love being able to give my story to others. That is what motivates me. You cannot believe how it was years ago. To see and understand the difference is important.
What recent new technology or advancements in racing excite you most?
Safety technology excites me. I have a foundation, the Stand 21 Safety Foundation, “Racing Goes Safer!” It is a non-profit with the main purpose of promoting enhanced motor racing safety. It was formed to explain what is good in technology, and to explain to people what to wear. There are still a lot of people that have poor suits that could kill them. They need to use the right equipment, and to use the technology available today.
What should everybody in the racing industry know about your company?
I want everyone to know that in my company, we are working for safety. We are not working to make money or to party. Racing is too serious for that. We are focused on the technology and on a high level of testing. We are the biggest manufacturer in the world of Frontal Head Restraints.
Two Additional Questions Regarding The Pandemic:
What is your business experiencing right now in the pandemic?
We had calls from medical people and laboratories because they didn’t have enough masks. So, even though we were closed, my son stayed at the factory and we were manufacturing masks for six weeks, because we wanted to help.
Is there anything you wanted to share with the racing industry right now in regards to the pandemic?
Visit our racinggoessafer.org website. The lessons we teach in our seminars can also be applied to dealing with the current pandemic. Knowing the facts on what is most effective applies to helping us personally avoid COVID-19 contamination. Knowing why we are doing something helps us do it better. With our company’s experience, we have already made and delivered thousands of face masks.
By Genie Davis