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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Racing Suit Materials

Continuing our series on providing some simplified racing suit information.

Auto Racing Suits, Race Suits or Firesuits are typically constructed from 1 of 2 types of materials, fire resistant cotton or nomex®.

Fire resistant cotton (FRC) is a treated fabric. There are 3 brands of FRC that most manufacturers use, Proban®, Pyrovatex® and Banox®. The advantages of purchasing an FRC race suit are first and foremost, pricing. Race suits made from FRC's can easily be half the price compared to nomex® race suits. Secondly, since the fiber is a treated cotton, FRC race suits have greater ability to wick away moisture. The disadvantages of an FRC race suit is a slightly heavier weight and the FRC suit can gradually lose it's protective properties with repeated laundering.
As long as the FRC race suit has an SFI patch and certification, it will provide equivalent, or in some cases, more protection from heat and flame as a nomex® race suit.
Most single layer race suits are of FRC materials, starting at around $90. Single layer nomex® suits can be 3 or 4 times the cost.
Multi-layer race suits of FRC materials, can be a great economical choice with increased protection, starting at $265.00.

Nomex® race suits are usually constructed with multiple layers. The lighter weight of the nomex® fiber, makes it a good choice for multi-layer race suits.
Nomex® is a man-made fiber that will retain it's fire resistant properties throughout the useful lifespan of the race suit, which means, consider replacing when noticeable wear, tears or contact with flammable fluids occurs.
Most professional race car drivers and many amateur or semi-pro drivers prefer a nomex® race suit.
There are "budget friendly", nomex® race suits available at $399.00. Custom cut and designed nomex® race suits can cost a few thousand dollars.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Auto Racing Suit Brands

Today, I will be reviewing some of the name brand Racing Suits, Race Suits, FireSuits, etc.
By my guesstimation, there are currently around 25 companies that are vendors of auto racing suits. The more popular American based labels are Simpson, Impact, RaceQuip, Crow, Ultra Shield and more. K1 Race Gear is one of the newer U.S. based companies to introduce a product line.
The European based vendors, Sparco, OMP, Alpinestars, etc., have recently gained a foothold with their sales in the U.S market. You will tend to spot more of the European race suits on the Sunday afternoon professional drivers, as the costs of these suits can be excessive to the weekend warriors.
Don't be surprised, when purchasing either an American or European racing suit, to find that it has been manufactured in China or Pakistan. Like most of the clothing we wear, production costs are controlled by outsourcing to other countries. You may also find similarities among certain suits with different brand labels. It is not uncommon for different companies to use the same template and factories for their products. The SFI foundation has even started to inspect and approve certain factories in China, Taiwan and Pakistan, for private label production. To verify SFI approval, simply visit their website and view the list of compliant vendors and production companies.
Other current auto racing suit vendors include: Bell, Pyrotect, G-Force, Oakley, ProFox and a few more that I'm sure I failed to mention.
Truly, all involved in race suit production, seem to make a decent product. Obviously, the more expensive suits, will have lighter weight materials, more features and typically better construction. We have seen no issues or heard negative feedback on the lower priced suits as well.
I think there are 2 main factors to consider before purchasing a new racing suit. Protection is definitely the first factor. Budget is the second factor. Protect yourself with the highest rated racing suit you can afford, there are plenty of multi-layer suit options on the market which will leave some money in your pocket for other equipment.