Budget Racing Gear Shopping List
Need safety gear but overwhelmed with the options? You can ask friends, try on their gear, go to speed shops… Or just use this guide. This post is a simple shopping list with a few options for each item: Clubs may have minor differences, but the items on this list is enough to get you ready for Wheel To Wheel racing with Champcar, 24 Hours of LeMons, NASA, SCCA, etc. If you are just starting track days with HPDE, all you need is a helmet.
If you want some more in depth info on what you need and why, check out my last post: The Budget Safety Gear YOU need for Track Days and Racing: Post 31
1) Helmet: Obviously required for everyone on track, whether HPDE, Racing, or even doing a ride-along:
Buy a SA2015 rated helmet. I expect the Snell SA2020 helmets to be released late 2020 or 2021… at that point, the SA2010’s will no longer be legal.
Super Budget Helmet Option: The Conquer. It doesn’t have any bells or whistles, but it’s affordable and comes with a Snell rating.
Affordable, but upgraded Helmet option: Bell Sport EV costs double than the Conquer, though it is still considered an affordable helmet. I currently have one and I love it. The helmet is comfortable, reasonably light, and the huge eyeport gives you full vision range though it can get slightly foggy as your mouth is essentially up against the visor. Huge eyeport not for you? The regular Bell Sport fits the bill as another quality helmet.
2) HANS: Head And Neck System: HANS brand system is what I have and it works just fine, minimal restriction on movement and easy removal/install.. If you are in a car with racing harnesses, you should have a HANS, if you are wheel-to-wheel racing, HANS devices are required.
3) Suit: Suits are required for racing, optional for HPDE. Whatever you get, make sure it has at least a 3.2a/5 rating.
Super Budget Racing Suit: Racequip 3.2a/5 This is my current suit. I had some alterations done at a local tailor, using Nomex Thread that I provided. After alterations the fit is pretty good, but it is especially warm. However, it does the job and was very affordable.
Budget Racing Suit: Sparco Conquest. Once you start looking around the $400 range, there many more suits available and materials become more exotic than simple (hot) treated cotton. The Conquest is one good example of suits in this range.
Used Racing Suit: Race Image has options for used racing suits. As long as you’re okay with some “pre loved” suits, going with a used pro suit can be a solid value. I discussed the option a bit more in the post: Buying used Safety Gear: Which items are worth it, and which to avoid: Post 33
4) Gloves: Most (But not all clubs) require SFI tags while racing. Gloves must be made from “fire resistant material” may be enough, but something rated is certainly a good idea.
Budget Gloves: I love my K1 gloves, they’re one of the cheaper” cool” gloves out there and their customer service rocks.
Cheaper budget gloves: Racequip 351 series. These are nearly identical to my first gloves that lasted 5 years hard use. They’re not particularly stylish or comfortable, but they get the job done and are affordable.
5) Shoes: You’ll also need shoes for racing. They’re fire resistant, but also designed to give you good pedal feel and heel-toe ability.
Budget shoes: Gforce Pro Series racing shoes are what I currently use. They’re on their last legs (feet?), but with 5 years of mixed DE, Racing, and too much walking around the paddock, they’ve had a good run.
Cheaper budget shoe option: Racequip shoes are rated, affordable, and get the job done.
6) Socks: Your Hanes don’t quite cut it. You will need nomex socks as well. If you go for the $10 special they may not last more than a couple weekends.
7) Balaclava: Balaclavas are only required if you have long hair not covered by your helmet, or a beard. However, they also help keep your helmet fresh for much longer.
This K1 Race Gear Balaclava gets the job done. Like socks, Black is less likely to look dingy than a white. Expensive balaclavas may offer nicer fit, more subtle stitching… so if you are irritated by a budget one, you may need to spend more money. I do just fine with a cheap balaclava.
Hopefully this list will help get you started, trouble free. As always make SURE you check the rulebook for the specific club you are participating in as there are some small differences between the clubs.
This post is a general guide for safety equipment required to race, it follows the rule book I am most familiar with. No equipment can make any sport 100% risk free, but when following motorsports safety rules there is much less risk of serious injury.
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