How To Guides

What Kit Do I Need To Go Racing?

05/03/2022, 09:00:52


As soon as you’ve decided you want to give motorsport a go, your next few questions are most likely going to include - ‘what kit do I need?’ You might have already wandered around paddocks and seen racing drivers with balaclavas, helmets and cool looking shoes cluttered around the place and might have already drawn up ideas about helmet designs in your mind. But first, you need to cover the basics - in this article, we’ll discuss the kit you need to go circuit racing in the UK. 


Of course, it is always best to refer to the Blue Book for the full specifications or details of anything you’re not sure of, but we hope this page will be a good place to start!


This is a good time to introduce FIA homologations. It might be obvious, but not just any old kit is sufficiently safe for going car racing. That’s why the FIA introduced their set of standards, which all racewear manufacturers must meet in order for the kit to be deemed fit for use at race events. Helmets, race suits, etc. are subjected to stringent safety tests which, if they pass, certify them as safe to use for racing. This process of testing and certification is called ‘homologation’.

Make sure your gear meets the minimum homologation standards first and foremost. You can’t go racing without it!


Helmet

Let’s start with your race helmet. It has a pretty important job to play so this isn’t an area where you want to scrimp. The old phrase goes, ‘you can’t put a price on your head’, but helmet manufacturers across the world are doing exactly that. You can find helmets vary massively in price, but when you’re starting out the most important consideration is whether it complies with the regulations as set out in the Blue Book.


The minimum safety standard is FIA 8860-2010. Your helmet must meet these regulations not just for your safety, but for you to be able to compete. When you turn up for your first race, your helmet is checked by a scrutineer before the MSUK approval sticker is then applied (for a couple of quid, might we add). 


For circuit racing, it is not a requirement to have a closed helmet if you are in an enclosed cockpit. However, you may want to consider one anyway as they offer the best protection - the same goes for visors or goggles of splinter-proof material. We could do a whole article on helmets, types, costs, etc. but the purpose of this overview, make sure you get one that fits snugly and meets the minimum homologation standards set out above. 


FHR Device

A FHR device, or Frontal Head Restraint, is something that is key to protecting you in the event of a crash.They are also known as ‘head and neck safety’ (HANS) devices and will be familiar to fans of F1. These devices attach to your helmet via tether straps and prevent against neck injury should you be unlucky enough to be involved in an accident that causes you to suddenly come to a stop.


We won’t go into what they do exactly or how they work here, but an FIA approved device is mandatory for drivers in circuit racing (unless you race certain classics, but it is still highly recommended). The FIA homologation standard for FHRs is FIA-8858-2010. Make sure that whatever you buy complies with this standard.


When purchasing your helmet, make sure that it is compatible with an FHR device and that it can be fitted according to the FIA regulations. Most new helmets are sold with HANS anchorage points as standard but do check if you’re buying second hand.


Racewear

Your racewear is your suit, gloves and boots. The race suit must be fire-retardant and cover your arms, legs and torso up to your neck. It’s important to emphasise that your suit must be fire resistant or retardant, not just abrasive resistant like in karting. There are two acceptable standards of overalls, these are FIA 8856-2018 and FIA 8856-2000 (to the end of 2029).


In addition to this, you are required to use flame-resistant gloves and shoes. Furthermore, Motorsport UK strongly recommends using flame-resistant socks, balaclavas and underwear. The rules might appear to be a cost barrier for some, but they are there for your safety.


Race suits can vary in price, roughly between £200-£1,000. Make sure that your race suit fits you well and is kept clean and in good condition between races. 


Extra tips


Buy the best you can with your budget

You only get one brain and one body so protect them as much as you can. Not to guilt-trip anyone, but as you’re probably well aware, having properly fitting and safe racewear can mean the difference between a life-changing injury and being able to walk away from a crash. 



Buy from reputable brands and stores

This is not meant to be an elitist statement, all we mean is make sure you buy your kit from somewhere that can prove their products are homologated. If you see a deal that looks too good to be true, it probably is. Unfortunately, we live in a world where it’s easy to make low-cost replicas and fake kit, so just be savvy when you buy your race kit, as if it doesn’t pass scrutineering, you won’t get to drive.





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