Here it is, the final installment of our Safety Series with 425 MotorSports owner Dan Reiss. In this edition we will cover racing shoes, gloves and suits and will thus provide the missing information needed for a complete safety set up. Combining parts one, two and three of the safety series should provide some vital information for staying safe and an excellent starting point for those wanting to race. As always we will sit down with Dan and pick his brain on advice for staying safe and being comfortable while racing.
Circuit94: Let’s start at the bottom, literally, lets talk about racing shoes first. Dan, what is so special about racing shoes?
Reiss: Racing shoes are designed by manufacturers such as Alpinestars, Sparco, OMP, Adidas, etc… with the help of top-level race car drivers all over the world. The point of a racing shoe is to give the driver comfort, great pedal feel, as little bulk and weight as possible along with a rolled heal to eliminate drag of the heal and safety of course. Professional drivers test with prototype shoes to enhance their performance and help manufactures offer new improvements each year. After over 40-years with companies like Sparco and OMP, you can imagine that their shoes are pretty well dialed in.
Circuit94: Ok, that makes sense as to what makes them special, but why do I need them and where do I start?
Reiss: Anyone racing a car, truck, side by side, even boats will need racing shoes. The shoes are built with Nomex and/or other fire retardant materials that go through very stringent SFI and/or FIA testing. This testing along with the certification tag on each pair of shoes insures the user that these shoes are safe by FIA standards and will be legal for their form of racing. Although most racing shoes look very similar by design, they all fit differently. The soles are different from brand to brand, the width and overall length of each shoe is different and each brand has a few different shoes in their line up to offer options to drivers. Other than that, drivers will have choices of colors and exterior designs that will earn them style points amongst their piers!
Circuit94: Ok makes sense, so what type of racing shoes would you recommend?
Reiss: It is hard to recommend a specific shoe to any driver. The best thing to do is to try them on and find the best fit for you. Function and safety are key of course! However, comfort is equally important. The driver needs to have a shoe that fits right and performs just how they like so that there is zero thought about their shoes while driving. Our goal as a safety equipment supplier here at 425 Motorsports is to help people find the right gear for them that they will not give one ounce of concern or thought to once they are in the car. Besides having the confidence that they will be safe in the case of an accident, roll over or fire, we want them to give 100% of their focus to their driving so that they stay on the track, don’t get into accidents and win races!
Circuit94: Good point! Sounds like the best thing to do is to stop by and try on a few different pairs. Shifting gears and moving from shoes to gloves, same question, whats so important about racing gloves and why the wide price range?
Reiss: Gloves are just like shoes when it comes to racing. You will need them if you are going to race. You will need and want the SFI or FIA tag proving they’re worth and safety compliance. Gloves are important safety items in the event of an accident or fire of course but they also serve a couple of other purposes. The first is that gloves will give you better grip on your steering wheel which is important when you are at your car’s max g-force in the middle of an apex at any speed. Secondly, gloves are easier for other drivers to see than our skin. So, they are important visually when a driver is offering a point-by. Lastly, gloves will absorb your sweat, preventing blisters and some offer padding for those who have a tendency to over grip the steering wheel. This padding will help to keep your hands from getting sore. All of this is good as it keeps the driver’s focus on the track and not on their hand, slippery steering wheel and/or developing any pain that may distract them from their goal of performing at their best.
Circuit94: What gloves does 425 offer and what do you recommend?
425 Motorsports is proud to have been working with the best brands in Motorsports safety for over 7-years. We hand select the manufactures and products they offer in order to give our clients a good variety of choices that are all top-tier when it comes to safety. With that said, you will find Alpinestars, Sparco, OMP and Adidas gloves on our shelves and on our site. We have different models from each brand to give clients options but they should have confidence that these are the best brands in racing and all are SFI and/or FIA approved. They just need to select the best fit for them and we are happy to spend the time with them to identify it.
Circuit94: Now that we have covered shoes and gloves, let’s cover the middle, let’s talk about racing suits, how they work and why some are so much more expensive than others.
Reiss: Racing suits are a key component in racing, you have to have one! Generally speaking, you get what you pay for… I hate that cliche but it is pretty accurate when it comes to suits. The inexpensive suits that you find out there for under $400.00 are generally cotton suits with a fire retardant chemical treatment. These suits will pass tech and are good for a couple of events. However, in the event of a fire, you would be pretty upset with yourself for not spending a little more! Not to mention, the chemical does not last forever and the suit will soon be flammable rather that fire retardant. When you reach the $400.00 level and above, you will find suits that are Nomex. This means that the material the suit is made of is fire retardant and will not lose its safety features after a couple of washes. When you reach this level and above, you will want to consider comfort in weight and breathability as well as the level of certification the suit has from SFI and/or FIA. This is where the general rule of the more you spend, the better off you will be. As you go up in price, the suits get lighter, more breathable, they may have full-floating arms for great flexibility, stretch panels in key areas, pre-curved arms and/or different materials for wear and/or mobility, etc… It is important to try on the suit and compare the different models and styles from as many quality brands as you can before purchasing. This is where we encourage people to purchase from the store that offers suits for them to try on. Without stores like this, it will purely be a guessing game. It is important to support your local store and shop!
Circuit94: That makes a ton of sense, especially on the trying the suite on part. So what is the most important thing to know when picking a suit?
Reiss: The most important part of picking a suit is making sure it meets the requirements of your sanctioning body. After that, make sure it fits and is as comfortable as possible to prevent any distraction from your driving.
Circuit94: As always, excellent information, thanks Dan. Is there anything about racing safety that we have not asked that you would like to mention?
Reiss: The only thing that we haven’t discussed is the care for your fire retardant safety equipment. 425 Motorsports carries a brand of detergent called Molecule that will retain and possibly even enhance the fire retardancy of your suit with each wash. It is not expensive but it is the only cleaning solution that you should use on your suit, gloves and Nomex under garments.
Circuit94: Good point. If you are going to invest in safety equipment it is important to take care of it properly. I hope that you have learned as much as I have about safety equipment during this series and that it will help you get out there and race safely. My goal is to get as many of you, the readers, out there on track and racing, and I hope that this helps you do so safely. Till next time.