Posted on January 10 2023
So the time has come to buy your first auto or go kart racing suit. Or perhaps you’ve purchased a racing suit in the past but regret your purchase because you didn’t know what you were doing. Well, don’t you worry. K1 RaceGear is here for you.
In this blog, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about racing suits so that you’ll make an informed decision when you purchase your K1 RaceGear suit.
So without further ado, here’s how to choose a racing suit!
What To Look For In A Racing Suit
Here are three of the most important items you’ll want to look for when it comes to purchasing your very first race suit:
- Does It Meet Certification Requirements?
- What’s the Suit Made Of?
- Does the Suit Fit Me?
Sounds simple enough, right? But let’s break each of these down one-by-one.
Does Your Suit Meet Certification Requirements?
If you’re buying a race suit, you’re probably competing in a league or series that will require a specific certification. So perhaps the most important influence on your racing suit choice will be whether or not it meets the requirement for your race series. If you don’t know, be sure to check the official rules and regulations for your series, or ask someone from your series’ sanctioning body.
There are two main certifications that racing series swear by: SFI and the FIA.
What Does SFI Rating Mean?
The most popular certification for auto racing suits in the United States is the SFI rating.
In short, the SFI is a non-profit organization that sets and oversees the standards for performance car and racing equipment. This means they certify everything from clutch assemblies to racing gear, like the race suit. Their certification differentiates products that are untested versus products that are rigorously tested.
In the case of suits, the SFI sets the standard of which any suit needs to meet in order to become certified. They call the current specification 3.2A. This means in order for a manufacturer to make a SFI certified suit, it must meet this standard.
Next, their certification includes a rating based on the garment’s Thermal Protective Performance (TPP) ability. The TPP is the number of seconds it takes for the wearer to sustain second-degree burns through the material from direct flame contact and radiant heat. So the higher the TPP number, the longer you have before you sustain a second-degree burn. See the chart below:
TIME TO SECOND DEGREE BURN
Racing Series that Require SFI 3.2A/1 Certification
Many racing series in the United States only require a SFI 3.2A/1 certification, including:
- SCCA Solo & ProSolo
- Quarter Midgets
- Bandoleros, Legends
- Thunder Roadsters
- Street Stocks
- Other entry level series
K1 RaceGear currently sells three single-piece suits and two 2-piece suits that meet the SFI 3.2A/1 certification, including our Victory Racing Suit (pictured above) and 2-piece Challenger Racing Jacket and Pants.
Racing Series that Require SFI 3.2A/5
SFI Certification goes up to SFI 3.2A/5, which is required by many top-level series in the US, including:
- World of Outlaws
- SCCA Pro Racing
K1 RaceGear has produced three single-piece suits, one youth single-piece suit, and one two-piece suit that meets this stringent requirement. This includes our GT-2 Racing Suit (pictured above), Precision II Youth Racing Suit, and the 2-piece Sportsman Racing Jacket and Racing Pants.
While SFI is the most popular form of racing suit certification in the United States, there’s one other certification you should know about: FIA.
What is FIA Certification?
The FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) provides the rules and regulations for most international series, including:
- Formula One
- World Rally Championship
- World Endurance Championship
- Many overseas junior categories such as F2, GB3, etc.
The FIA has its own racing suit certifications that are tested similarly to SFI. Up until recently, the most common FIA homologation was FIA Standard 8856-2000. While F1, WRC and other series have moved to a newer spec (8856-2018), the older spec is still widely used around the world.
Race Suit Requirements for Go Karting
Race suits intended for go kart racing do not need to meet the same requirements as auto racing suits. This is because there’s less risk of injury from fires in go kart racing, but more risk for abrasion injuries.
At K1 RaceGear, we make suits that can be used in almost all kart racing series in the United States, including SKUSA, ROK Cup WKA, IKF, NKA, AKRA, KART, and TAGUSA.
Racing Suit Materials and Construction
Once you’ve determined that your suit meets the requirements for the kind of racing you’re participating in, let’s go over racing suit materials and construction.
Race Suit Materials
Race suits are offered in a variety of materials. At K1 RaceGear, we use Cordura, Proban Cotton, and Nomex. Each material provides varying degrees of protection to meet specific needs, so let’s dig into this a little bit more.
Abrasion Protection: Cordura
As we wrote earlier in this blog, when you’re racing karts, more emphasis is placed on protection against abrasion rather than fire protection. While fire is the worst-case scenario for auto racers, tumbling out of your kart is the worst-case scenario for karters.
Because of this, most karting suits (including ours) are made of Cordura.
What is Cordura?
Cordura is an extremely durable synthetic fabric that offers very good protection against abrasion without sacrificing performance. When woven together with nylon, it produces a suit that offers excellent stretch, wicks away sweat, and is very breathable and supreme protection for kart racers.
Because Cordura doesn’t offer protection against fire, it is not used for auto racing suits.
Fire Protection: Proban Cotton vs Nomex
As discussed earlier, auto racing suits are all about fire protection rather than abrasion. As a result, these suits tend to be much less durable than fabric such as Cordura so they. This means they can and do rip and tear, so some caution is advised with your flame retardant suits.
Two of the most common flame retardant materials used for auto racing suits are Proban and Nomex. Let’s explore their differences.
What is Proban?
Proban is not a fabric, but a fire retardant chemical (Proban). The advantage to Proban is that it can be added to many types of materials, including cotton. As a result, the suits are more comfortable and more affordable than going with a Nomex suit, while still offering excellent fire protection. So if your budget doesn’t allow for a Nomex suit, or your series doesn’t require the use of Nomex, then getting a Proban suit is a great alternative.
K1 RaceGear currently uses Proban Cotton for its two single-layer racing suits: the Challenger Suit and the Triumph 2 Suit (both available as one-piece or two-piece). Both suits meet the stringent SFI 3.2A/1 certification standards.
That said, since the fire protection is just an applied layer, it can wear off over time, especially after 25+ washings. This isn’t the case for Nomex.
What is Nomex?
When you’re looking at fire protection, nothing beats Nomex. That’s why nearly all racing suits that meet SFI standards and every suit with FIA certifications include it in their construction.
Unlike Proban, Nomex is an actual material that is inherently fire retardant. This means the fire resistance is actually built into the fabric, rather than fabric treated with fire resistant chemicals. The result is long-lasting fire protection that won’t wash out or wear off.
Nomex is also typically used in two-layer and three-layer suits, meaning its protection is even greater. This is why K1 RaceGear’s SFI 3.2A/5 suits - like our Precision II Suit - are all made with 100% Nomex to ensure fire protection for a longer duration.
How to Choose the Right Fit For Your Racing Suit
So you’ve finally decided on which racing suit you’re going to buy, but you don’t know which size is going to fit you. Well, this is how to choose the right fit for your K1 RaceGear race suit.
Note: Sizes do vary by manufacturer, so a large with us may differ from a large somewhere else. The information presented is specific to K1 RaceGear products.
The two most important measurements you’ll need for your suit fitment are your height and weight. Once you have those measurements, take a look at the chart below:
Find the range of your height, then look at the weight number in the next column over. If your weight is within that range, then the size in the first column is the one for you!
But if your measurements give you two different size, go with your larger measurement (whichever is further down the column). For instance, if you’re 5’8”and 163 pounds, choose the M/L size. Or if you’re 6’2” and 180 pounds, then the XL will be the size for you.
Custom Race Suits
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a race suit that’s tailor-made to your specifications, K1 RaceGear can make it.
We offer custom SFI 2.A/1 Proban race suits starting at only $599.95. If you need full SFI 2.A/5 protection, we offer those too! We can make you a custom Nomex suit starting at $1,599.95.
To order a custom suit, we’ll need more measurements than just your height and weight. For the full list of measurements and how to take them, please view our Measurement Form.
Custom race suits also give you the ability to customize the quilting stitch color, leg design (boot cut or cuffed), and a variety of premium add-ons.
For more information, please visit our Custom Suits page.
Start Shopping For Your Suit!
Now that you know what certifications and suit material you need, and how to choose the right size for your suit, you’re ready to shop K1 RaceGear’s racing suit collections!
Hit one of the links below to start shopping our auto racing suits or karting suits:
Have additional questions? We’d love to help you out! Give us a call at (760) 268-0710 or shoot us an email at email@example.com.
We look forward to being your racing suit manufacturer!