Text: Brent Co / Photos: Brent Co, Momo Italy, HJC | posted July 13, 2010 17:30
The proper safety gear for racing
So you think you're ready to race? Not until you have the proper safety gear. In the fast paced high-octane world of racing, safety should be one of your top priorities. A racing suit and its accompanying gear don't only make you look cool, but it could also help save your life in case of an accident.
What is the proper safety gear?
If you're racing cars, make sure you use FIA or SFI homologated Nomex-lined safety gear. It's not just to follow the rules but it will also prevent you from turning into a roasted piece of meat in case of a fire. High-octane race fuels more often than not are not visible to the eye when ignited; they also burn a lot faster and reach extremely high temperatures. Nomex is a specially developed flame retardant material, which is incorporated with all motor racing safety equipment from your helmet to your racing shoes protecting you from head to toe.
Invest in a good helmet. If you don't value your head, then might as well go racing naked. A currently homologated SNELL SA rated helmet is a must. Hemet homologation is done every five years; if your helmet is too old, replace it. If it has even hairline cracks, it's better to buy a new one as well.
When choosing a size, the helmet must not be too tight or too loose. Having a helmet that is too tight might hamper blood circulation, while a loose one might end up flying off in case of a hard crash. A helmet should have a snug fit. And make sure to strap your helmet when you put it on.
An FIA of SFI homologated two-layer Nomex racing suit is minimum but more layers can offer better protection. It might feel warmer, but it's definitely better than burning. But do remember that the suit is only lined with a fire retardant and is not completely fireproof.
Make sure to get the proper sizing, as a race suit that is too tight will prevent you from getting a full range of motion.
Safety is in your hands and within your reach. A good pair of racing gloves not only gives you better control of the wheel and shifter but will also help you get a better grip on your safety.
To find the right glove size in inches, hold a measuring tape in the center of your palm and measure around back while making a fist. Do not include your thumb in the measurement.
Racing shoes not only complete your racing look but also gives you a better feel on the pedals in action-packed racing. Get yourself a real pair of racing shoes and not just racing inspired ones, as those are not flame retardant and even come with a warning label. You're only as flame retardant as your weakest piece of apparel.
More recently the HANS (Head and Neck Support) system has been introduced to the world of motorsport and is required in higher level of motorsports like Formula One. Primarily made of carbon-fiber, the device resembles a U-shape with the back of the U set behind the neck with two arms laying flat along the top of the chest over the pectoral muscles; it is generally supported by the shoulders. It is attached to the helmet with two anchors on either side. The HANS device provides support to your head and neck and prevents basilar skull fracture and more serious and fatal injuries in the event of a crash.