Selecting Proper Safety Equipment


By now most Circle Track readers know that we’re big fans of safety equipment. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. We want you to enjoy your passion and make it back to the people who care about you.

A major part of staying safe inside your race car is personal safety equipment. While you may look to go the simplest and easiest route, this is something that you should take time with and research well. In fact, American Canadian Tour Champion Nick Sweet, who we spoke to just prior to PRI, makes it his priority each year to investigate all the new safety equipment innovations at the show. Jeff Van Oudenhoven, whose Team 45 owns Racetech Chassis Super Late Model, was in our booth and made it a point to seek out a new helmet this year.

If you don’t have the option of updating your equipment every season, it’s OK. However, be aware of the shelf life on products. It’s a good idea to know how long you can go before finding a replacement. One of the best ways to learn about those options and the equipment itself is simple. Just ask. You may think the safety companies are just out to sell you stuff. Well, they’re a business, so yes they do need to sell stuff, but most of them are racers or have racing backgrounds. They they’ll be straight with you. They understand the struggles of racing on a budget. How do we know? We asked.

“Most safety gear choices are personal preference. Someone may have had good luck with a particular brand, but a lot of the products have similar or exactly the same benefits,” RaceQuip owner Patrick Utt said. “The nice thing about safety gear is that all of it has to be tested by the SFI Foundation. That kind of levels the playing field for all the products and the consumers. For example, our SFI belts meet the same standard as other SFI-rated belts, so it’s very easy to make comparisons.”

Of course, racers like to shop around for the best deal, and according to Utt, differently priced option are available. However, it’s very important to look for more than a price point when you’re looking around.

“Step One: Look at the rules for whatever series or sanction you’re going to run. But understand those rules are a minimum standard,” Utt said. “A lot of time, we have equipment that has a higher standard. It costs a little more, but it provides added protection.”

“Secondly, what level of safety do you want to have personally?” Utt said. “Many tracks would allow you to wear an SFI Level One suit, but if it were me, I would certainly wear a multi-layered suit to get that added protection. An SFI One suit is good for about six seconds in a gasoline fire to get out of the car before you suffer second-degree burns. When you go up to an SFI Five multi-layered suit, it gives you about 12 to 14 seconds. It’s a big difference when you’re in a fire.”

Many sizes are available. RaceQuip’s driver suits range from child sizes through 3XL for some of the large-and-in-charge racers out there. Some racers may prefer a custom-fit suit, which is offered at places like Simpson Racing Products. Custom fit suits aren’t necessarily better than the other types. It mostly comes down to driver preference.

The folks at Simpson are very thorough in their approach to selecting the right safety equipment by fit and feel. At PRI, they took the time to measure racers for custom suits as though they were stepping in to visit the tailors. It wasn’t just the suits, either. Simpson’s team also helped with measurements for the correct selection in head-and-neck restraints and helmets.

Although, we stopped and snapped the photos at Simpson, our friends at places like G-Force Racing Gear and NecksGen are just as knowledgeable and accessible with very similar advice.

“It’s important to have a helmet that fits properly, but not everyone’s head is shaped the same,” Utt said. “Even though we give recommendations on our website about how to measure your head to end up with a properly fitting helmet, there is no substitute for actually trying it on. Then, you have to consider if the helmet is squeezing or too tight. Is it comfortable or is it just snug? Snug is correct. That’s how a helmet is supposed to fit. A lot of people don’t like the snugness, but to do its job properly, it needs to fit snugly.”

It goes without saying that parents should be very vigilant about their young racers’ safety, as well. The safety companies have put a large emphasis on equipment and training for these racers over the last several years. What’s unfortunate (but necessary) is the need to upgrade and replace equipment on a regular basis.

“It’s important to understand that kids are going to grow,” Utt said. “These kids outgrow this stuff in six months to a year, so you really have to look for good value in your safety gear and inspect it regularly.”

To that extent, Randy LaJoie’s company, The Joie of Seating, has come up with an innovative idea. The idea was adapted from a golf-club exchange program that LaJoie had learned about from PGA golfer Tom Kite.

“I have a wonderful kid program in which I try to provide equipment to grow with the kids. I have two kids that raced, and it’s a big burden on the parents because they spend a lot of money on clothes, uniforms, and helmets. I try to provide [swap out?] two or three different seats for the kids that I don’t charge them for during their growth period. It’s a little easier on the wallet. I try to be nice to the parents.”

While this type of program may not work for every piece of equipment, it’s a great gesture by LaJoie to help curtail the cost for young racers and their families.

After our investigation at PRI, we found it was very easy to approach these suppliers and simply ask these safety questions. What sort of protection should I look to have? What concerns should I have about fit and comfort? How often should I expect to replace my equipment?

Each piece of equipment and each racer will generate a different answer. The important thing is to do the research and ask questions to discover what is best for you. Aside from some extra time, it costs you nothing. But it could help save you from injury.

Selecting the proper safety equipment may seem like a chore, but it’s critical. It could make the difference between walking away from a wreck unharmed or being injured, potentially seriously. A few extra hours of research can go a long way.
Selecting the proper safety equipment may seem like a chore, but it’s critical. It could make the difference between walking away from a wreck unharmed or being injured, potentially seriously. A few extra hours of research can go a long way.
Our GM John Viscardo gets his measurements taken in the Simpson Racing Products booth at PRI. A custom Circle Track suit would look pretty nice.
Our GM John Viscardo gets his measurements taken in the Simpson Racing Products booth at PRI. A custom Circle Track suit would look pretty nice.
The team at Simpson is very thorough, taking full measurements for anyone who took the time to stop in the booth.
The team at Simpson is very thorough, taking full measurements for anyone who took the time to stop in the booth.
The measurements for custom suits were logged on this sheet. Much like a tailor’s notes, Simpson works through the proper measurements to make the racer a comfortable, safe suit.
The measurements for custom suits were logged on this sheet. Much like a tailor’s notes, Simpson works through the proper measurements to make the racer a comfortable, safe suit.
It isn’t just suits. Simpson is also very thorough in helping select the proper head-and-neck restraint.
It isn’t just suits. Simpson is also very thorough in helping select the proper head-and-neck restraint.
After measuring, the team at Simpson hooked up our GM with the proper HANS Device.
After measuring, the team at Simpson hooked up our GM with the proper HANS Device.
Some racers prefer Simpson’s Hybrid. After a few quick measurements, Viscardo was fitted with this type of head-and-neck restraint.
Some racers prefer Simpson’s Hybrid. After a few quick measurements, Viscardo was fitted with this type of head-and-neck restraint.
The team at NecksGen had an extremely busy booth, too. The PRI Show gave them a chance to show their growing product line and answer plenty of questions. (Photo: NecksGen Facebook)
The team at NecksGen had an extremely busy booth, too. The PRI Show gave them a chance to show their growing product line and answer plenty of questions.
(Photo: NecksGen Facebook)
Head-and-neck restraints and suits are incredibly important, but the importance of proper, safe undergarments is starting to come to the forefront. The team at PXP Racewear showed off its product line and were able to provide some education.
Head-and-neck restraints and suits are incredibly important, but the importance of proper, safe undergarments is starting to come to the forefront. The team at PXP Racewear showed off its product line and were able to provide some education.
Nothing quite beats trying on a helmet. It should feel snug, so it can properly do its job in case of an accident.
Nothing quite beats trying on a helmet. It should feel snug, so it can properly do its job in case of an accident.
Young racers can use PRI as an opportunity to learn more about safety, as well. Parents can take the time to discuss what is best for their kids with attending safety companies, and what to expect as their racer grows.
Young racers can use PRI as an opportunity to learn more about safety, as well. Parents can take the time to discuss what is best for their kids with attending safety companies, and what to expect as their racer grows.
“A properly fitted seat is a seat that fits your entire body,” Randy LaJoie from The Joie of Seating said. The company’s booth had this jig to help racers get proper measurements.
“A properly fitted seat is a seat that fits your entire body,” Randy LaJoie from The Joie of Seating said. The company’s booth had this jig to help racers get proper measurements.
Dirt Modified ace Kyle Strickler jumped into the fitting jig to demonstrate how the team at The Joie of Seating goes through the process. In all, it took about two minutes.
Dirt Modified ace Kyle Strickler jumped into the fitting jig to demonstrate how the team at The Joie of Seating goes through the process. In all, it took about two minutes.
“We a form-fitted seat here at the Joie of Seating,” LaJoie said. “We start with a stamped product. We put a round butt into a round-part seat instead of a flat-bottom seat. I ask people if they wear a square helmet. When they say, no, I ask then why do they sit in a flat seat?”
“We a form-fitted seat here at the Joie of Seating,” LaJoie said. “We start with a stamped product. We put a round butt into a round-part seat instead of a flat-bottom seat. I ask people if they wear a square helmet. When they say, no, I ask then why do they sit in a flat seat?”

Sources:

G-Force Racing Gear
(770) 998-8855
www.gforce.com

The Joie of Seating
(704) 795-7474
www.joieofseating.net

NecksGen
(619) 328-0410
www.necksgen.com

PXP Racewear
(317) 442-2491
www.pxpracewear.com

RaceQuip
(813) 642-6644
www.racequip.com

Simpson Race Products
(800) 654-7223
www.simpsonraceproducts.com



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *