What Protective Gear Is Required for Kart Racing?
So, you finally decided that today is the day you begin your racing journey. You know what you’re driving, where you’re driving, and whom you’re driving with. But wait, you’re forgetting something. That’s right, what are you going to wear? Sure, a shirt and a pair of jeans may be acceptable in your local track, but if you have plans of stepping up to the national or even international level, that’s just not going to cut it (Like seriously, the rules don’t allow it). If you are asking yourself that question, well you have come to the right place. Because I am going to tell you what you need to wear in order to race hard and be safe while doing so.
- Balaclava (Average Price: $70)
- Before the helmet, first the balaclava goes on. There are 2 main reasons as to why racing drivers wear one. First, it protects the driver from burns in case a fire breaks out in the cockpit, as the material by which the balaclava is made is fire resistant. And second, a balaclava absorbs sweat, which prevents the helmet from smelling bad. AlpineStars and OMP Racing are best when it comes to balaclavas and there is no set nor recommended number of years before one need replacing.
- Helmet (Average Price: $250)
- These works of art are seen everywhere, whether it be the loud designs, or the simple message behind it. And its purpose is very straightforward, which is to protect your head. It is important that you must know what a racing helmet looks like, because not all helmets are created equal. There is a huge difference between a racing helmet and a motorcycle helmet. For instance, motorcycle helmets have a more sharp and sleek design, whilst racing helmets have a rounder and in certain cases, bulkier design than motorcycle helmets. For quality helmets, it is best to make sure they are made by Arai or Bell. If you plan to buy a second-hand helmet, make sure that it is not older than 3 years.
- Neck Brace (Average Price: $300)
- The g-forces experienced by go-kart drivers are immense. From acceleration, braking, until cornering, the neck is especially put under immense stress. This is where the neck brace comes in. This apparel is placed between the helmet and shoulders which limits movement around the helmet area and prevents any soreness after a race. For the cream of the crop in the world of neck braces, Sparco is your best bet.
- Racing Suit/Overalls (Average Price: $400)
- Similar to the balaclava, racing overalls are made from fire resistant material, which protects you in the event a fire breaks out. Alpinestars, OMP Racing, and Sparco take the cake when it comes to quality racing overalls. Keep in mind however, that depending on which championship you choose to compete in, your racing suit must be up to a certain grade which is determined by the Commission Internationale De Karting (CIK), who is associated with the FIA (Federation de Internationale I’Automobile). For national and local events, a Grade 1 level suit is right up your alley. But if you are to compete in the national level, a Grade 2 suit is required. All suits can be used as long as it has not passed 10 years.
- Rib Protector (Average Price: $200)
- Rib protectors keep your chest and ribs safe in the event of a high speed crash or shunt. Putting a racing suit is just not enough. You’re ribs are still very much exposed and prone to injury, so make sure to grab yourself one of these. Just like the balaclava, Alpinestars creates very good rib protectors. Honorable mentions include Ribtect, Forcefield, and K1 Race Gear
- Racing Gloves (Average Price: $200)
- Racing gloves which are made from Nomex, help you keep the kart in control. It increases your grip when you are holding the steering wheel, protects the driver from getting burns in the event of an accident, and reduces the feeling of vibration when holding the wheel, which is helpful especially during long races which can easily wear you out. You can find the best gloves from Alpinestars, Sparco and Oakley.
- Racing Boots (Average Price $300)
- Last but certainly not the least, are racing boots/shoes. Aside from the safety aspect of racing shoes, they help you get a better feel of the pedals which can help in finding your braking points, and knowing when to get on the power. This can help you perfect your lap times because of the extra control you are able to get. To find the best racing shoe for you, make sure that it fits and is not tight nor loose as this may affect how you feel the kart. By a large margin, Alpinestars is number one when it comes to racing shoes, although Sparco is also a good option.
So that is all the racing gear you need. Alpinestars, OMP, and Sparco show up multiple in this list when it comes to best racing gear, so you can guarantee they make quality products. If you are karting on a budget and plan to buy second-hand versions of these apparels, make sure to do your due diligence and research, to ensure that you are getting a good deal. So what are you waiting for? Get out there, and start your racing journey!