Fire proof clothing

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All racing organizations require drivers to wear fire proof suits when racing. Many drivers at HPDE in higher run groups or in modified cars also wear fire proof suits.

Ross Bentley in his speed secrets books says if you can't afford safety equipment then you can't afford to race.


How good is a fire proof suit?

The SFI certifies suits at various levels.

SFI Rating TPP Value Time to 2nd Degree Burn
3.2A/1 6 3 Seconds
3.2A/3 14 7 Seconds
3.2A/5 19 10 Seconds
3.2A/10 38 19 Seconds
3.2A/15 60 30 Seconds
3.2A/20 80 40 Seconds

This gives you a rough guide to exactly how much time you have to get out of the car if there is a fire. If you're unconscious then you're waiting for the marshalls to get you out of the car. Get the best equipment that you can with this in mind. Fireproof underwear can add time also. The FIA says that fire proof undergarments can add as much as 50% to the time to burn.

Most drivers wear a SFI3.2A/5 suit. The problem with the 'better' suits is that in a race track situation, you get too hot. You could wear a cool suit to compensate but there's a fine line between safety in a fire and avoiding heat stroke. The more expensive fire suits seem to be the 'lightest' ones meeting a /5 rating.


Helmets that meet the motorsport standard have some amount of fireproofing builtin. This is a difference with motorbike helmets. For example, the chin straps are made from a fire proof materiel such as Nomex. A 2 layer Nomex or similar balaclava should also be worn under the helmet and tucked in to your suit/underwear correctly.


Fire proof gloves are a good idea as you need your hands to undo belt buckles/nets etc. Make sure the palms also have fire protection.


There are fire proof shoes and socks also to provide protection for the feet.


Dupont make a fabric called Nomex. Nomex is a widely used fabric that offers excellent protection from flame. Most racing suits are made using multiple layers of nomex. The nomex can protect the wearer from a fire for a short period of time. The SFI and FIA certify suits made from Nomex.

Carbon X

This is a carbon fiber based materiel invented by Chapman innovations. It appears superior to Nomex but seems to have breathability issues in that you sweat more in this materiel versus Nomex. This may be a point in time statement, however, as the technology is improved. It's still very much a new kid on the block in racing circles.


All jewellry should be removed. Metal objects in a fire may heat up and burn the area of the body around it. So, leave your watch, rings, necklaces in the paddock.

Web resources on fabrics