How to Choose a Race Suit

We acknowledge the significance of your racing program, but we also understand that when you buckle up in a race car, your family will always put your safety first. Your racing supplies, including harnesses, accessories, and even the racing suit you wear, must be correctly fitted to your body form in order to adequately protect you in the event of an accident, rollover, or fire. In this guide, we will focus not only on how to choose a race suit, sometimes known as a fire suit, but we will also provide you with the information you need to select the right race car driver suit that will guarantee your safety in the case of an in-vehicle fire.

Race suit requirements

A good race suit provides significant safety and comfort, but choosing the right one can be challenging. Westwood Racing Supplies is ready to help you choose racing suit for every race.

1. Layers

Race suits used to have a single layer of protection, but now two and three layers are required for added safety. A three-layer Nomex suit offers 15 seconds of fire protection per layer, allowing for a safer escape during a fire. This standard is not applicable to all suits. A few Sparco race suits use a single layer of Nomex and Hocotex to provide the same protection as a three-layer suit. Specific motorsports need at least three layers of fire protection, which includes fireproof underwear. So, a two-layer suit with fireproof underwear meets the rule.

2. Suit size

A racing suit requires precise measurements for vital body parts. Take these measurements with caution, making sure you understand how to measure correctly and what measurements are required. If your measurements are on the larger side of a size, we recommend that you size up to accommodate yourself. Standard sizes may be somewhat larger in some areas, despite the fact that tailored suits provide an optimal fit.

3. Safety check

SFI ratings enable drivers to select safety equipment based on potential dangers and their racing category. The number on a suit's Thermal Protective Performance (TPP) label indicates how long it can resist heat transfer. A higher TPP provides longer protection. The effectiveness of fire-resistant underwear varies depending on the type and layering, but it can provide some additional protection. Racing suits frequently use lightweight, flame-resistant materials such as Nomex and Aramid. Some examples of fire resistance are:

  • Suits with multiple layers provide more protection, like SFI 3.2A/5.
  • Professional-grade fire protection is covered by the SFI 3.3/5 certification.
  • The international standard for fire resistance in racing suits is FIA 8856-2018.

4. One-piece vs. Two-piece race suit

It is a matter of personal preference and comfort to choose between the two, but check with your race sanctioning body and track officials if you have any special requirements. The two approaches have several advantages:

  • Two-piece suits are perfect for working on cars or waiting for races; they provide versatility and comfort for individuals who require different sizes or prefer a distinct style.
  • One-piece suits are high-end suits with advanced features that are usually only available in one-piece designs. Furthermore, one-piece suits provide extra protection because there is no gap between the pants and jacket that could expose your skin to flames or heat.

5. Ideal weight

One of the primary distinctions between the race suits is their weight. Generally speaking, a suit is more expensive the lighter it is. Is the lighter outfit really that much of an issue? Yes, it does. A lightweight suit reduces overall weight for the driver, increases comfort, and reduces fatigue during long races.

6. Right fit

A well-fitting race suit is more than just comfortable. This is the proper way to do it:

  • Use the sizing chart provided by the brand to determine the best fit based on your height, chest, waist, and inseam measurements. Most brands include thorough sizing charts based on these parameters. Use these as a starting point, but keep in mind that sizing varies by brand.
  • If you have a larger frame or longer limbs, consider sizing up or looking for suits with features such as pre-curved sleeves or elastic panels to ensure a better fit. Brands frequently provide alternative fits, such as slim and regular, to accommodate different body types.
  • Try on the suit before making a purchase to ensure it fits, moves well, and is comfortable.

7. Colors and design

The different race suits also vary in terms of design. Suit colors and styles differ, including bold designs and more subtle options. Style is quite specific, so you might not find an off-the-rack suit that fits you. You can add options to your suit to make it uniquely yours. Although they cost extra, they give you the chance to create a race outfit that looks great.

8. Suit material

  • Nomex is a popular choice for race suits for its heat protection and lightweight design.
  • Kevlaris are commonly used in parts prone to touch during a slide, such as elbows, knees, and shoulders, to protect them.
  • Nomex is combined with other synthetic fibers to provide an aramidic blend of fire resistance, tear resistance, and breathability.

Additional features to enhance your racing experience

Modern racing fire suits include several features that are integrated during manufacture, and these play an important role in the purchase process.

  • Ankle Protection: An ankle cuff with an elastic band provides protection, and a boot cut makes it comfortable to wear. A stylish boot cut combined with an integrated ankle cuff for safety is a common combination in suits.
  • Waistband: Elastic waistbands are common in suits, particularly two-piece sets. One-piece suits typically have a sewn-in belt with hook-and-loop fasteners for simple adjustment, even when racing gloves are worn.
  • Back stretch panel: In one-piece suits, this optional feature is a stretch fabric panel sewed into the back that makes it easier to put on and take off. Stretch panels strategically placed in important places such as the shoulders, elbows, and knees provide flexibility and range of movement.
  • Arm stretch panels: The floating arm stretch panels in the arms and shoulders can be 180-degree or 360-degree, with the latter providing the most freedom of movement. They are typically found in one-piece suits.
  • Shoulder epaulets: Most racing outfits include shoulder epaulets to help track safety staff during driver evacuation.
  • Flat seams: They eliminate pressure points and irritation, resulting in a more comfortable driving experience, especially during long races.
  • Pockets: These are more common in the pants of a two-piece suit, but they can also be found in some one-piece suits. Some drivers choose to have pockets in their race suits. Look for suits that have pockets or velcro attachments for keeping hydration vessels, which will help you keep focused and hydrated during long races.

Popular options for race suits

The right racing suit is crucial for both safety and comfort. Let's have a look at some popular options to see which might be your best fit:

Alpinestars GP Pro Comp V2 Suit

This suit is popular among racers due to its lightweight and breathable design, which has an Alpinestars outer shell and a soft aramidic interior. Mesh panels on the back, crotch, and arms provide additional airflow and flexibility. Silicon grip technology on the shoulders and lower back improves connection to your HANS device and race seat.

Sparco Driver Men’s Suit Black

Sparco, a well-known brand of superior racing gear, is noted for its excellent fire protection and durability. It is a great option for racers looking for a durable suit at a reasonable price. Although it might not be as breathable and sophisticated as Alpinestars, it nevertheless provides proper comfort and fire protection.

Alpinestars' Knoxville V2 Suit

It is made of a long-lasting, fire-resistant cotton twill outer shell and liner, with cushioning for impact protection. Stretch panels at the crotch, waist, and underarms provide a comfortable fit and ease of movement. Certified to a high safety standard (SFI 3.2 A/5), this suit provides adequate protection while being flexible, yet it may not be the lightest option.

Alpinestars LADIES Stella GP Pro Comp V2 Suit

This female-specific version of the Alpinestars GP Pro Comp V2 Suit features the same lightweight, breathable construction as well as mesh panels for ease of movement. It is made to fit a woman's body without limiting her range of motion.

Alpinestars GP Tech Suit

In terms of functionality and pricing, Alpinestars' GP Tech suit falls somewhere between the GP Pro Comp V2 and the Sparco Driver. It has good performance, lightweight construction, and breathability, making it suitable for difficult races. This suit is ideal for frequent drivers and semi-professional use.

Alpinestars' Hypertech V2 Suit

The Hypertech V2 suit is a highly lightweight, two-layer design that feels like athletic wear and is FIA certified for crash protection. Despite having less cushioning than the Knoxville, the carefully placed stretch panels and Alpinestars' floating arm structure offer an adjustable fit.

Shop your race suit right away

You are now prepared to look into the selection of racing suits offered by Westwood Racing Supplies, having learned which certifications and materials to search for as well as how to determine the proper size. See our wide range of racing supplies suitable for every race. Shop in person or online at our store.

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We are eager to become your preferred supplier for racing suits.