How to Choose the Best Type of Racing Harness for Your Motorsport Needs?

February 8, 2024

Choosing the right type of racing harness for your motorsport needs is a significant step towards enhancing your safety and performance on the race track. The harness not only keeps you securely in your seat during a race but also protects you from potential injuries in case of an accident. This article will discuss various factors to consider when selecting the perfect racing harness, including the harness types, the standard safety certifications, and how to ensure a proper fit.

Understanding the Types of Racing Harnesses

Before you make a purchase, it’s essential to understand the different types of racing harnesses available in the market. The number of points a harness has will determine its effectiveness regarding safety and comfort.

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A two-point harness, for example, is the most basic type of seat belt, similar to what you would find in a regular passenger car. However, these belts do not offer the level of safety and restraint required for high-speed racing.

Four-point harnesses are a significant upgrade. They feature two shoulder straps and two lap belts, offering a good balance between safety and comfort. However, without a sub-strap, in the event of an accident, there’s a risk of the driver sliding under the belts, known as submarining.

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The five-point harness adds a single sub-strap to the four-point design, which helps prevent submarining. Meanwhile, the six-point harness features two sub-straps, further enhancing safety by distributing forces over a wide area of the body.

Finally, the seven-point harness is typically used in high-speed, high-risk racing such as NASCAR, adding an extra sub-strap for the highest level of protection.

Safety Certification: SFI or FIA?

When choosing your racing harness, you’ll notice that most harnesses come with either SFI or FIA certification. These certifications ensure that the harness meets specific safety standards.

SFI-certified harnesses are common in American racing series. This certification requires harnesses to be replaced every two years due to the potential degradation of the belt material caused by environmental factors.

On the other hand, FIA-certified harnesses are required in many international racing series. These harnesses undergo rigorous testing and tend to be more durable, with a lifespan of five years.

It’s important to choose a racing harness with one of these certifications, as they guarantee a certain level of safety that non-certified harnesses may not provide.

Ensuring the Proper Fit

Sizing and fit are critical considerations when buying a racing harness. A poorly fitted harness can cause discomfort, restrict movement, and even compromise your safety.

First, consider the width of the harness. Most racing harnesses come in two widths: two-inch and three-inch. Two-inch harnesses are typically used with a head and neck restraint, as they allow the restraint to fit comfortably on the racer’s shoulders. Three-inch harnesses, on the other hand, are more traditional and can be more comfortable for larger drivers who are not using a head and neck restraint.

Next, consider the mounting style of the racing harness. Wrap around style harnesses are versatile and easy to install on most seats, while bolt-in or snap-in harnesses offer a more secure fit but may require specific mounting points or brackets.

Finally, remember to adjust your harness correctly. The lap belt should sit over your hips, while the shoulder straps should lay flat against your body and form a 90-degree angle with your seat. The sub-straps, if your harness has them, should fit snugly between your legs.

The Importance of Compatibility with Your Seat and Car

Your harness should be compatible with both your racing seat and your car. If a harness isn’t compatible with your seat, it won’t provide the intended safety benefits.

For the shoulder belt, make sure it aligns with the harness holes on your racing seat. If the belt is routed over the seat instead of through the holes, it can cause the seat to break during an impact.

Also, ensure that your car has proper mounting points for the harness. Most modern racing cars will have dedicated mounting points, but if you’re driving an older model or a car that wasn’t initially designed for racing, you may need to add these.

Additionally, check that the harness is suitable for the type of racing you will be doing. Some harnesses are designed specifically for certain types of racing, such as drag racing, oval racing, or off-road racing.

The Role of Personal Comfort and Preference

While safety should always be your top priority, personal comfort and preference should not be overlooked when choosing a harness. The more comfortable you are, the better your performance will be on the track.

Some drivers prefer wider shoulder belts for comfort, while others may prefer narrower belts for a tighter fit. Similarly, some drivers prefer the durability of FIA-certified harnesses, while others may opt for the regular replacement of SFI-certified belts.

Consider also the buckle type. Camlock buckles offer quick release, which can be beneficial in an emergency. However, they can be more difficult to fasten than latch-and-link buckles, which some drivers prefer for their simplicity.

Choosing the right racing harness for your motorsport needs is a crucial decision. Paying attention to the number of points, safety certification, fit, compatibility, and personal preference will ensure you make the right choice. Your racing harness is not just a safety device; it’s an investment in your passion for racing.

Configuration with Roll Cage and HANS Device

When considering a racing harness, it’s also crucial to take into account your car’s existing equipment. The most notable would be a roll cage and a HANS (Head and Neck Support) device.

A roll cage is a safety feature that provides a structural framework in your car, protecting the driver from serious injuries in case of a rollover accident. When choosing your racing harness, the roll cage becomes an important consideration as the harness needs to be mounted correctly to it. The shoulder straps of 5, 6, and 7-point harnesses, for instance, typically need to be attached to the roll bar of the cage behind the driver’s seat for proper restraint.

Meanwhile, a HANS device is another essential piece of equipment that protects a driver’s head and neck during a collision. This device works best with a racing harness as the shoulder straps hold it in place during an accident. For compatibility with a HANS device, a two-inch shoulder belt is often recommended. This is because two-inch belts fit perfectly over the device’s yoke, ensuring it remains firmly against the driver’s body during a violent stop. If you use a HANS device, it’s essential to ensure your racing harness will accommodate it.

Remember, the effectiveness of your racing harness is heavily reliant on correct installation. Ensure that all the components, including the roll cage and HANS device, work harmoniously together to provide maximum safety on the track.

Making a Decision: Balancing Safety, Comfort, and Regulations

So, how do you make the final decision when choosing a racing harness? It’s a balance of safety, comfort, and racing regulations.

Safety should always be the top priority. Choose a harness that meets safety certification standards, such as SFI or FIA. The number of points in a harness also contributes to safety. A five or six-point harness is the most common choice for most racers, offering a high level of safety without compromising too much on comfort.

Comfort is also essential as it directly affects your performance on the track. Consider the mounting style, the width of the shoulder straps, and the type of buckle when evaluating comfort. A comfortable harness will allow for better concentration and less fatigue during a race.

Lastly, consider the regulations of the particular racing series you’re participating in. Some racing series have specific requirements for their racing harnesses. Do your research and ensure your chosen harness meets these requirements to avoid disqualification.

When chosen correctly, a racing harness can improve your performance, keep you safe, and enhance your overall racing experience. Remember, in motorsports, the right equipment can make all the difference.

In conclusion, selecting the best racing harness for your motorsport needs involves considering various factors such as the type of harness, safety certification, proper fit, compatibility with your car and seat, and personal comfort and preference. Furthermore, configuration with other safety equipment, particularly the roll cage and HANS device, is a crucial step towards ensuring maximum protection on the track. Ultimately, the right harness not only keeps you safe but can also contribute positively to your performance on the track. It’s a vital component in the world of motorsports and an investment that every serious racer should take the time to choose carefully.