Beginner’s Guide: Safety Gear Recommendations For Outlaw Dirt Kart Racing

A Beginner’s Guide to Safety Gear

 

Let’s Break Down List Mandatory Safety Gear List

Racing Suitssuits group

Kart suits should fit well: not too big so that the material bunches up and not too tight which can restrict driver movement.  Bulk is not comfortable but layers add protection. 

Ratings to look for:

  1. SFI 3.2A/1 These suits are typically made of cotton with a fire-resistant treatment and must protect the wearer from second-degree (blistering) burns for 3 seconds. They are often referred to as “Single Layer Suits.”
  2. SFI 3.2A/5 Made of Nomex or other aramid fibers, these suits must provide the same protection for a period of 10 seconds. They are often referred to as “multi-layer suits,” though some are able to provide the required protection with a single layer of Nomex fabric.

Here are 6 key points that the everyone should know about Race Suits:

  1. Not all Racing Suits are “Firesuits”, and Firesuit doesn’t mean that it’s Fire PROOF. 
  2. The SFI 3.2A/1 rating on a suit means that it has meet minimum standards and was tested for fire resistance.  Suits with this rating are usually a single layer kart suit made of cotton with a fire-resistant treatment. So don’t let the term “Firesuit” give you a false sense of security.  For this rating level, the wearer is only guaranteed protection from second-degree (blistering) burns for 3 seconds. 
  3. This is currently only require for Gold Plate and Animal classes, but highly recommended for all drivers.
  4. The other common rating on kart suits is CIK-FIA Homologation.  To earn this rating the suit has been tested and passed for abrasion protection and Heat Resistance.  “HEAT” is not “FLAME”. 
  5. While the risk is low for that your beginner will be in a firey crash in 3.5 hp motored kart, the fact that they are belted into a cage that takes longer to get out of in a worse case seneroio is why were recommend adding an extra layer of protection.
  6. It is highly recommended that an added layer of protection be considered when you are outfitting your dirt track racer and this can be done by wearing fire-retardant undergarments WITH your single layer suit.   OR    You can choose the higher SFI 3.2A/5 rating which means a suit with more layers made out of NOMEX.

Just like we Texas call all soft drinks “Coke” – and i could argue that Pepsi is a Coke, in the end “Coke” is not Pepsi.. The same goes for calling race suits “Firesuits”.  But does a single layer cotton suit sprayed with a resistant treatment really quantify as Firesuit?  Well, I think it’s confusing and misleading for most people, but I an guilty of it too.  Now, on the other hand the SFI 32.A/5 multi-layer suits made out of NOMEX definitely earn that right.  As long as everyone knows that if their car catches on fire you have 3 seconds to get out, stop, drop and roll or the nearest fire exinguisher gets into the able and ready hands with lighting speed reflexes. but if you are wearing fire-retardant material like NOMEX the flames will probably just bounce off you – so no need to for any Ricky Bobby moves.

Just so we are on the same page, here is a recap:

CIK rating = Heat resistance – no fire protection -Perfectly acceptable in the Beginner classes and flat kart classes.

SFI 3.2A/1 = Fire-resistance – 3 second protection from direct flames before they burn the skin –  Highly recommended for the advanced classes but is Required for classes running alcohol (ie: Animal).

SFI 32A/5 = Fire-retardant = 10 second protection from direct flames with.  The safest option that offers the most protection, however not required.

To learn more about the difference check out the Automotive Work Wear FAQ page

Gloves Gloves

A good glove design will keep you in touch with your fingers senses and will improve your grip on the steering wheel. Your driving glove should give you a close fit that easily conforms to your hand, so aim for a snug size that will stretch to your hand. Most gloves are required to be fire retardant, thus meeting the SFI or FIA certifications.

Helmets

Helmet group

 

All Helmets offered at KAM Karting rated SA2010.  (See related blog post – with full Snell details)

Our helmet rule may be confusing to beginners. The M, K and SA were previously acceptable as long as they were current.  When we updated our rule book last year, I took notice that 2005 series was about to expire.    I did dome more research on this before we finalized the rules for 2014, and even spoke with the people at The Snell Foundation directly for guidance and clarification. (See related blog post) This is an area I see a lot of “Rookie Mistakes” by parents buying a cheap dirt bike helmet to save money or buying a used, outdated helmet that doesn’t even property fit.  The helmet is the most important piece of safety equipment you put on your kid and should be seen as an important investment. 

So here’s a tip for the beginner: while the “K” rating does stand for “kart”, it only applies to flat karts – NOT cage karts. The Snell Foundation, in their extensive testing and strict requirements for safety, found that the actual roll cage adds a higher risk of head injury if during a wreck the driver’s head hits the roll bar during a collision.   The “K” rating does not meet the additional testing requirement.

Bottom line and for the purpose of this post for beginners, it is our recommendation that you look to purchase a helmet with a “SA2010” rating. In addition to the roll bar testing mentioned the “SA” is also fire resistance while the other ratings are not.

Neck Support (aka: Neck Collar, Helmet Support)

 Not to be confused a “Head Restraint” A support collar is required safety gear almost everywhere you race and for KAM doesn’t require any special safety ratings.  Chose your collar for comfort.  The collar is primarily intended to support the helmet and is worn around the neck. So you may it called one or the other, but just know that it is the same thing.  This item will cost you about $25

 

Shoes

Race shoes

Okay, let me clarify – Shoes are required to race.  While highly recommended for the safety rating, we don’t have a requirement for be Race Shoes.  A well designed shoe allows the driver to feel the pedals and provides good pedal grip. Racing shoes should be fire retardant with a Nomex lining and fit securely while having concealable laces or a reliable closure. Zero heel elevation provides drivers improved maneuverability in a tight space.  TIP: avoid letting your driver walk around or play in their race shoes.  They are designed for racing in not playing in.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer:  my recommendations are based on the rules at KAM Kartway and/or products that we carrying in our shop. If you don’t race here, please check with your sanctioning body before making any purchases to ensure compliance at your local track.

 

Warnings

  • Whether you choose fire-retardant or flame-resistant clothing, remember that no clothes are guaranteed not to burn. Many people believe that pure cotton will not burn, but that is a myth, Automotive Workwear’s shopping guide warns. Washing protective clothing eventually will remove its flame protection, so follow manufacturers’ direction closely, the company adds.

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/about_6762348_difference-retardant-flame-resistant-clothing_.html

Warnings

  • Whether you choose fire-retardant or flame-resistant clothing, remember that no clothes are guaranteed not to burn. Many people believe that pure cotton will not burn, but that is a myth, Automotive Workwear’s shopping guide warns. Washing protective clothing eventually will remove its flame protection, so follow manufacturers’ direction closely, the company adds.

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/about_6762348_difference-retardant-flame-resistant-clothing_.html