SCORE Journal


SCORE Journal - The Official Publication of SCORE Off-Road Racing

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Safety Apparel The Technology Of Racing Suits To Undergarments Is Constantly Evolving By Larry Saavedra Lightness, moisture-wicking capability, and breathability are the top three qualities seen in today’s racing suits and associated apparel, according to industry spokespeople. It’s suggested that the latest qualities in materials are more sought after than ever, specifically in off-road desert racing where ambient temperatures can be extreme and comfort is a must. Fortunately, racers today have many off-the-rack and custom choices when it comes to quality safety apparel, but they need to be careful on the quality of the apparel they select. MISLEADING INFORMATION Clément Chaudonneret of Stand 21 North American pointed out that racers are inundated with misleading information that needs clarification. From his perspective, people are told two things that lead them to make mistakes while purchasing a racing suit and safety apparel.  “Most racers think that a lighter suit is the solution for all conditions,” he said. “It would be acceptable if a lightweight suit were breathable as well. In reality, there is no such thing as light and breathable suits, regardless of what manufacturers and vendors are saying.” He suggested that lightweight suits are great with open-wheel cars in fresh-air racing conditions, and during shorter periods of driving. “Even if you are using a cooling underwear system, the body has a crucial need to expel the heat, and this can only be done with a suit made out of breathable fabric.’’ Stand 21 directs racers to their specific style of racing suits that are either breathable, lightweight, or a “hybrid lightweight” that uses breathable fabrics where needed. Chaudonneret said if racers are looking for breathability in a suit, they should check out Stand 21’s La Couture HSC, ST3000, ST221, and HSC EVO line. If lightness is their preference, he suggested La Couture, ST221 AIR-S. By far, he says the La Couture Hybrid is their most popular racing suit that uses breathable fabrics on the torso and back. Others in the industry like Roger Mealey, marketing director of RaceQuip, said he also sees some mistakes being made in proper sizing. “One of the mistakes is not using the specific manufacturers’ size chart,” he said. “Sizing is not done on any kind of national standard. It can vary from one manufacturer to the next. You also can’t assume that if you wear a large shirt you should wear a large racing suit.” Mealey believes there are special considerations to be made for racing, so sizing charts offer several parameters that allow for the correct fitting of a racing suit. “The racer should look for a racing suit that provides good movement in the shoulders and arms when seated. Racers don’t want them too bulky in the stomach where they will bunch up.  Most don’t want them too tight either.” He explained how the air gap between your skin and the suit is an extra layer of thermal protection, and it’s necessary to take careful measurements for all parameters. As for what’s most popular at RaceQuip, Mealey pointed to the SFI 3.3 Rated FRC underwear. The FRC line is offered in tops, bottoms, socks, and hoods. These are made of a RaceQuip proprietary blend of aramid and FRC fabrics. PROTECTION AT A PRICE When it comes to developing a budget, some industry experts had suggestions. “We understand many riders have a budget,” says Jim O’Neal, owner of O’Neal USA. “I tell people that quality brands should not leave you struggling to make a choice that sacrifices safety. If you are dipping into no-name brand products, you are likely making a mistake.”  O’Neal stressed that some people put their fashion sense ahead of common sense. He added that people tend to forget this is safety equipment. “Good quality safety gear sees thousands of hours of testing in the field and lab before the product is ever released,” he said. “If your goal is to look pretty, take up ballroom dancing. If your goal is to go racing and win races, get protective products that perform and still look great. We have been in business now for 52 years, and the products keep getting better and better. The materials we use now are built to last, but light enough to wear even in the SCORE Baja 1000. Creating protection that will be comfortable and breathe even during grueling heat and long races, while still offering protection if you go down, is no easy accomplishment. The ability to produce such products is truly the result of constant innovation and ever-evolving engineering.” Fabryce Kutyba, national sales manager at Alpinestars, agreed with O’Neal about racer’s choices of safety apparel. “Some racers think that they don’t need proper safety gear,” Kutyba said. “Many tell us that they are only competing in this-or-that, or that they are only entering in one race a year. It only takes a split second, however, for things to go wrong. Having proper safety equipment is more paramount than having the latest go-fast part. I find this even more important in an off-road environment where safety crews are not close by, and it may take a long time to get to someone.” As an independent supplier of Alpinestars products, Christopher Emery, who owns The Racers Safety Source, said he tries to evaluate each potential buyer before they make a decision. To get feedback on safety gear, Emery set up a display booth at the 54th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 Presented by 4 Wheel Parts. He encouraged racers to poke around and ask questions about Alpinestar’s lineup, especially its newer TechVision program, a fully printed suit technology where the ink and material are proprietary to Alpinestars and offer exceptional breathability and lightness. “I asked racers directly why they looked at certain products,” Emery said. “I tried to get them to justify a piece of safety gear to me or a particular racing suit before they even start talking about price.” Charlie James, senior vice-president of marketing for Simpson, had another suggestion. He thinks those new to Baja racing need to factor in how much time they are going to spend inside the racecar. “Minimum safety standards should cover things like flammability resistance, but they do not address specific needs such as driver comfort and breathability inside the racing suit,” he said. “You should first consider the durability of materials and craftsmanship of the products that you will be wearing when you might need them the most. Technology is an ever-evolving race, and your fire-resistant base layer or underwear is no different. Better materials, more stretch/compression fit, and higher breathability are some key elements to consider when selecting your gear.” James recommended Simpson’s ProFit Base Layer, constructed in Italy using the latest techniques while providing superior softness and stretchability.  RACERS ARE ATHLETES  According to Ben O’Connor, vice-president of sales and marketing at Impact Racing, today’s desert racers are getting more physically fit and are performing at the level of athletes. He believes this is changing how safety apparel is being manufactured.  “We became aware of the need for compression undergarments,” he said. “Drivers like to use it to avoid muscle fatigue. However, what is available today is made from polyester and nylon blends, which are flammable and can melt on the skin. We are working on releasing Nomex compression undergarments under our ION brand. This especially helps women racers because there are not many Nomex bras available, and the compression tops can help keep women racers much more comfortable.”             THE FIRE TRIANGLE Fire is the last four-letter word you ever want to hear in a race vehicle. Industry spokespeople agree that safety starts at preventing burn injury, and there’s no contesting that quality racing suits and apparel are there to primarily save you from fires.  Anytime heat, oxygen, and fuel are present, there is the potential for fire, according to motorsport experts. Moreover, chase trucks carrying flammables are just as likely as the race vehicle to experience an onboard fire, they added. For these reasons, all manufacturers recommend pit crews also wear proper fire suits, helmets, gloves, and shoes.  Top-tier racing suits and associated apparel are all made with aramid fibers, which is the basic compound behind the brand Nomex. Nomex was branded by Dupont in the 1960s’. This is not to be confused with racing suits and apparel that are “chemically treated” with Proban to resist fire.  Our experts warned that Proban will eventually wash off the fabric after a few cleanings, whereas aramid fiber-made apparel can withstand repeated cleaning without damage to the integrity of the fire-resistant product.  If you’re still hesitant about buying a particular racing suit or safety apparel product, our experts said to look for the Thermal Protection Performance ratings (TPP) sewn on the product. This TPP rating tells you how long, in seconds, a racing suit or other apparel will protect you from second-degree burns, according to FIA and SFI standards. The higher the TPP, the better protection you will have in case of fire.  SCORE REGULATIONS When it comes to racing suits and apparel, SCORE has particular regulations to follow. To compete in a SCORE event, racing suits for four-wheeled vehicles need to be certified to SFI 3.2A/1 or a 3.2A/2, and a racing suit must be worn with SFI 3.3 undergarments. All racing suits must be of a one-piece design, according to SCORE’s technical director, Dan Cornwell.  The consensus among industry leaders appears to be the need for buyers to be realistic about their needs and to set a well-researched budget. They say to take a closer look at reducing costs on the go-faster performance products of your vehicle, before reducing the budget on things that will keep you safe and alive.  SJ DRIVING SUIT AND ACCESSORIES By Mike Vieira The latest driving suits and accessories are always changing. Here are some of the latest from the various manufacturers we spoke with. Helmets and neck restraints are covered in another section in this issue. IMPACT RACER2020 1-PIECE COMPLETE FIRESUIT Impact’s Racer2020 1-Piece Complete Firesuit offers modern, two-tone, European styling in a budget-friendly SFI3.2A/5 rated suit. It features a Nomex outer layer and a cool, comfortable ImpactMAX inner liner, stretch paneling in the lower back, 360-degree full-floating arm gussets, boot-cut ankle cuffs and ribbed arm cuffs, and extra-deep pockets. Box quilting adds additional thermal protection from heat transfer. Available in all black or black with red, gray, or blue trim. Sizes Small through XXXL. MSRP is $729.95. IMPACT PHENOM RS 2.0 SHOE Impact’s new Phenom RS 2.0 Shoe features a pre-formed anatomic sole in lightweight fuel and oil-resistant rubber for an excellent pedal feel. The mid-top design uses ultra-soft, calf-skin leather, with Speed Laces and a Velcro closure for proper fit and support, as well as an Achilles stretch panel for mobility and comfort. The SFI 3.3/5-approved RS 2.0 is available in black or white, in men’s sizes 7 through 13. MSRP is $324.95 per pair. AXIS 2.0 FIRESUIT Impact’s new Axis 2.0 firesuit is SFI 3.2-A/5 compliant and is constructed in fire-rated 100% Aramid based fabric for fire protection that won’t wash out. The two-layer suit is lightweight and breathable and features pre-curved arms for increased comfort while driving, boot-cut ankle cuffs, a banded collar, and quilted box stitching for additional thermal protection. MSRP is $529.95. PHENOM DS 1-PIECE FIRESUIT The Phenom DS 1-Piece Firesuit is constructed with a fire-retardant outer layer and a cool, comfortable ImpactMAX inner liner. The suit is certified to FIA 8856-2000 and SFI 3.2A/5 specifications. Features include 360-degree full-floating arm gussets, functional back and auxiliary gusset, stretch crotch, ribbed arm cuffs, boot-cut ankle cuffs, and inset front pants pockets. Available in black/red, black/gray, black/blue, and dark gray/black. Sizes S through XXXL. Also available in women’s sizes. MSRP is $999.95. SPARCO SUPERLEGGERA DRIVING SUIT Sparco’s Superleggera Driving Suit is the lightest FIA 8856-2018 and SFI 3.2A/5 approved suit on the market. It features side and rear stretch panels that give maximum mobility, breathable inner thigh stretch panels, 360-degree floating arm gussets, and pre-curved arms and legs. Available in five color combinations and sizes 48 through 66. MSRP is $1,699.00. VICTORY 2.0 DRIVING SUIT Sparco’s Victory 2.0 Driving Suit uses patented new technology called HOCOTEX that gives multi-layer protection with a single-layer fabric and is the only single-layer suit with the SFI 3.2/5 rating. The honeycomb internal air microcells of HOCOTEX provide improved fire protection, as well as breathability and flexibility. The suit also features stretch arm gussets and a choice of boot or standard cuffs. Available in five color combinations, and in sizes 48 through 66. MSRP is $949.00. CONQUEST 2.0 DRIVING SUIT Sparco’s Conquest 2.0 Driving Suit features two-layer construction with 100% Aramidic material for lighter weight and better breathability. The SFI 3.2A/5 approved suit also features pre-curved arms and a choice of standard or boot cuffs. Available in black with white or red trim, and sizes 46 through 66. MSRP is $399.00. SPARCO ARROW RACING GLOVE Sparco’s Arrow Racing Glove is FIA and SFI approved and designed for superior comfort and grip. It features Touch-S technology that provides touch-screen compatibility. The seamless palm, printed in high-grip HTX, contours to the natural shape of the hand. The glove uses external seams and a unique inner thumb seam for maximum comfort. Available in a variety of color combinations, and in sizes XXSmall through XXLarge. MSRP is $199.00 per pair. LAP RACING GLOVE Sparco’s Lap Racing Glove features a unique elastic cuff system and hybrid finger stitching to maximize comfort and improve durability. The FIA 8856-2018 and SFI 3.3/5 approved gloves have pre-curved fingers and palms printed with smooth, high-grip silicone for improved control and comfort. Available in five colors and a variety of sizes. MSRP is TBA. LAND + RACING GLOVE Sparco’s Land + Racing Glove features new printed high-grip silicone fingertips and palms for improved control and feedback. The FIA and SFI approved glove is constructed with reinforced seams and elastic wrist supports. Available in four color combinations, and in sizes XSmall through XXLarge. MSRP is $99.00 per pair. SPARCO FORMULA RACING SHOE Sparco’s Formula Racing Shoe is a mid-boot design in ultra-soft calfskin leather with perforated vents. Anti-static, fuel and oil-resistant, lightweight rubber soles offer an excellent pedal feel. The FIA and SFI approved shoes also feature pre-formed anatomic insoles, an Achilles stretch panel, Speed Laces, and a Velcro ankle closure. Available in various color combinations and sizes. MSRP is $309.00 per pair. SKID + RACING SHOE Sparco’s Skid + Racing Shoe is specifically designed for off-road applications. It features a thicker, textured sole using shock-absorbing foam, yet retains pedal grip and feedback. The FIA-approved shoe is constructed in soft leather in a mid-boot design with an offset closure system and textured side abrasion resistance panels. Available in black with grey or red trim, and in a variety of sizes. MSRP is $279.00. RACE 2 RACING SHOE Sparco’s Race 2 Racing Shoe is SFI approved and features a new sole design to improve pedal feel and shock and vibration resistance. A Comfort Achilles panel allows ankle movement, and a wide toe box and extra-cushioned sole provide greater comfort. The boot-cut design uses a suede outer shell and Velcro closure. Available in black, blue, and red, and in sizes 7-½ to 13. MSRP is $100.00 per pair. PYROTECT PYROTECT CUSTOM SUIT BUILDER The Custom Suit Builder allows you to create a personalized Pyrotect driving suit in either SFI-1 or SFI-5 specification. The suits are designed to be comfortable, stylish, and lightweight, as well as to provide custom styling and features. Available in standard or custom sizing with a choice of eight designs, or custom design, choices of embroidery, cuff styles, and other details, along with standard features like 360-degree arm gussets, a flexible back panel, and slash pockets. MSRP starts at $325.00 for SFI-1, and $995.00 for SFI-5. STAND 21 LEGACY GLOVES Stand 21’s Legacy Gloves are “Outseam” designed to provide the feel, comfort, and grip necessary to the safety and performance of competition. The fire-retardant Legacy is FIA 8856-2018 homologated, has a pre-formed palm, and is available in a variety of sizes. Constructed with Aramid and using an adhesive silicone grip, the fully-customizable, hand-made Legacy is available in standard colors of black or white. MSRP is $229.00 per pair. RACEQUIP RACEQUIP SFI-5 CHEVRON-5 NOMEX RACING SUITS RaceQuip’s Chevron-5 Nomex SFI-5 Racing Suit exceeds SFI 3.2A/5 rating and is constructed with an outer layer of durable Nomex, and a soft, lightweight Nomex liner. Designed with 180-degree floating arm gussets and stretch panels in the sides for improved flexibility and fit. Other features include a heavy-duty, two-way brass zipper, Nomex wrist and ankle cuffs, adjustable belt, epaulets, and internal pockets. Available in Black, red, or blue in sizes S through XXXL. MSRP starts at $399.95. 359 SERIES OUTSEAM GLOVES The 359 Series Double Layer Outseam Glove is constructed with two layers of knit Nomex and exceeds the SFI 3.3/5 rating. Outside seams and mitered fingers provide improved fit, comfort, and steering wheel feel. Palms are high-grip suede leather and gloves feature an extra-long, angle-cut, cuffed gauntlet for improved fire protection. Available in red/black or gray/black in sizes S through XXL. MSRP is $79.95. SIMPSON HELIX RACING SUIT The Simpson Helix Racing Suit is designed with athletic performance-enhancing features to reduce weight and driver restrictions. The SFI 3.2A/5 certified suit is constructed in DuPont Nomex fabric with 270-degree arm and back gussets, and knee and inner thigh stretch panels. Additional features include a lower back stress relief panel, an upper back ventilation port, patch pockets, and embroidered trim and logo. In black with gray trim, and available in sizes Small to XXL. MSRP is $599.00. STEALTH SPRINT SHOES Stealth Sprint Shoes are SFI 3.3/5 certified and are constructed of soft leather with toe, lace, and heel guard reinforcements. The high-top shoes feature a lace cover and full-length speed closures on each side, as well as wrap-around ankle support and sloping Achilles heel design. The inside is lined with fleece Nomex with flat seams and athletic inserts, and the Type R polyurethane soles use a posi-grip pattern. Available in black in men’s sizes 6 through 14. MSRP is $159.95 per pair. SIMPSON DNA RACING GLOVES The DNA Racing Gloves feature external seams, tapered and pre-curved fingers, pre-curved palms, and silicone palm and finger grips. The SFI 3.3/5 certified gloves are constructed of knit Nomex with knuckle and wrist bone padding, and are designed to provide a comfortable, custom fit. Available in sizes Small through XL, and in black and red, black and blue, or black and white. MSRP is $189.95 per pair. ALPINESTARS HYPERTECH V2 SUIT Alpinestars’ Hypertech V2 Suit is a super-lightweight and breathable two-layer design that offers maximum comfort and effective regulation of body temperature. Constructed with an aramid Nomex anti-static outer shell and an aramid knit inner liner, the suit meets FIA 8856-2018 standards. Other features include fully floating arm construction, soft, thin wrist and ankle cuffs, a flat-seam design to reduce pressure points, and a specially designed soft collar with a hook and loop closure. Available in a variety of color combinations in sizes 44 through 64. MSRP is $1999.95. TECH-1 ZX V2 GLOVES Tech-1 ZX V2 Gloves are certified to FIA 8856-2018 standard, and feature inside seams on the thumb, and outside seams on the other fingers. Constructed with aramid fiber and bonded aramid lining for temperature control. Open-cuff design uses a 180-degree elastic wrist for easy entry and a secure fit, and latex inner palms and silicon palm and finger patterning provide grip and precise control. Thumb and index fingers are touch-screen compatible. Available in a variety of color combinations in sizes Small through XXX-Large. MSRP is $209.95. TECH-1 Z V2 SHOE Tech-1 Z V2 Shoes are designed for a more sock-like fit for maximum control and superior fit. Thin rubber compound soles provide improved sensitivity and grip, while a proprietary wire closure system optimizes support and structure. A para-aramidic fiber tubular lining offers excellent heat resistance, light-weight, and strength, while aramidic Speed Lacing and Lace Lock Systems. Available in a variety of color combinations in sizes 5 through 13. MSRP is $339.95 per pair.

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