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Technical Center

Got questions? We have answers.

 

What is the difference between FIA and SFI approval for race wear, harnesses, seats and and FHR (frontal head restraint)?

The FIA - Federation Internationale de l'Automobile - is the governing body for motorsports around the world, including Formula 1, Formula E, World Rally Championship, World Endurance Championship, and most other international championship series. Under their mission to promote safety in driving, they have a series of standards that all safety equipment must follow in order to be allowed for use in their sanctioned events.

The SFI Foundation is a US-based non-profit that issues safety standards for racing equipment, as well as does testing and certification. Their standards are followed mostly by US-based events, such as NASCAR, NHRA, USAC and more.

The FIA and SFI use different standards for race wear and FHR, and are not interchangeable.

In the Philippines, most races are sanctioned or observed by the AAP - Automobile Association of the Philippines - which is an affiliate of the FIA, which means most races in the Philippines follow FIA standards. However, many race series do allow SFI certified racewear, harnesses and seats, so it is best to check with the organizers before deciding on what equipment to buy.

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What is the difference between FIA and Snell approval for helmets?

Similar to race wear, harnesses and seats, the United States follows different standards for head and neck protection as does the rest of the world.

The Snell Foundation is a US-based non-profit that issues safety standards for racing equipment, as well as does testing and certification.

The FIA and SFI use different standards, and are not interchangeable.

In the Philippines, most races are sanctioned or observed by the AAP - Automobile Association of the Philippines - which is an affiliate of the FIA, which means most races in the Philippines follow FIA standards. However, many race series do allow SFI certified racewear, harnesses and seats, so it is best to check with the organizers before deciding on what equipment to buy.

In the Philippines, most races are sanctioned or observed by the AAP - Automobile Association of the Philippines - which is an affiliate of the FIA, which means most races in the Philippines follow FIA standards. However, many race series do allow SFI certified racewear, harnesses and seats, so it is best to check with the organizers before deciding on what equipment to buy.

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How do I choose race wear that is best for me?

Before we answer this question, you have to know what events you will be competing in, and what standard your racing apparel is certified for.

In the Philippines and most other countries, 8856-2000 is generally accepted for most forms of racing. However, all 8856-2000 suits will no longer be allowed in any FIA-sanctioned event after 2029. 

Newer race wear are manufactured under the 8856-2018 standard are only required in the highest levels of motorsport, like Formula 1, Formula E, World Rally Championship and World Endurance Championship.

Once you have determined which standard to purchase, the next step is to get race wear that fits you.


For race suits, you want something comfortable to move in. It must be comfortable when you sit or squat, and allow your arms to have full range of motion.

For gloves, make sure that they aren't loose around your hand. Your hands should not slide inside your gloves when turning the wheel. Make sure there is a small gap between the tips of your fingers and the ends of the gloves, so they do not pinch your fingernails when you make a fist.

For shoes, your heel should be snug against the heel counter, and you should be able to comfortably tie the laces snugly.

For underwear, the most important thing is to ensure your body is not restricted from movement.

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When do my racing suit, gloves, and shoes expire?

There are two accepted standards for race wear (suits, gloves, shoes and underwear) - 8856-2000 and 8856-2018.

Race wear with the 8856-2000 certification do not have expiry dates, but the FIA requires all race wear to indicate their production year. However, scrutineers have the right to fail a suit if it is not in good condition or has damage, like rips, tears, and busted seams. It is important to note that race wear manufactured under the 8856-2000 standard will no longer be allowed in FIA-sanctioned competitions starting 2029.

Newer Race wear are manufactured under the 8856-2018 standard. These expire ten (10) years after the date of manufacture, indicated in a tag that says "Not valid after 20XX," where 20XX is 10 years after date of manufacture. Scrutineers, however, still retain the right to fail a suit if it is not in good condition or has damage, like rips, tears, and busted seams.

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Do I have to dry clean my race wear?

No. You do not need to dry clean your race wear. You can hand wash or even machine wash them, as long as you follow these very important instructions.

Turn your race wear inside out, and make sure you close up all Velcro parts so they do not stick to and damage the Nomex lining of your race wear. Be sure to use mild detergent (woolite soap is recommended) with no bleach and no fabric softener. If you are using a washing machine, it is best to wash your race wear separately from other clothes. Set the machine to delicates and only use  cold water. It is also best to put your suit inside a wash bag.

Never a dryer. Hang and air dry your race wear, but keep it away from direct sunlight.

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How do I choose a helmet that is best for me?

As with race wear, it is important to first determine what kind of racing you will be doing. Some events require full-face helmets, while some allow open-face helmets. Also, there are two current helmet standards - 8859-2015 and 8860-2015. You only need the 8860-2015 helmets if you ware racing in Formula 1.


As a general rule, it is recommended that you buy the lightest helmet you can afford, that still conforms to the requirements of the race series you will be entering. A lighter helmet means less strain on your neck, especially in an accident

If an open face helmet is allowed, you may want to consider it, because it is lighter and easier to breathe in. However, it provides less protection from facial injuries or from debris that may strike you in the event of an accident, such as glass shards from your windshield, or stone or dirt that enter from the windows. They are also not useable for karting or open wheel/open cockpit racing.

Full face helmets are recommended for all forms of motorsport. While they can take some time to get used to if you are new to racing, they provide the most protection. They are also required for karting or open wheel/open cockpit racing.

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When does my helmet expire?

FIA helmets with the 8859-2016 and 8860-2015 certifications do not have an expiry date, however, it is required that their production year be specified in a tag on the product. However, scrutineers are empowered to refuse the use of a helmet based on condition, such as chips, cracks, or other damage. Modifying or drilling holes in your helmet can also lead to scrutineers disallowing your helmet.

Helmets with the 8859-2010 and 8860-2010 standard are still valid for competition and have no expiry. Helmets with the 8858-2010 certification will be allowed by the FIA for competition use until 2023.

It is recommended, however that you replace your helmet every five years. Also, if you helmet has been dropped from a height of 50cm or more, it is recommended that you replace it. Similarly, if you have suffered an accident while racing, it is recommended that it be replaced.

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How do I clean my race helmet?

For the shell, water and mild soap are enough, with a clean microfiber cloth. Never use solvent-based chemicals or abrasive cleaners/polishes.

For the inner liner, it is best to take a sponge, wet it with lukewarm water and use mild shampoo, and then gently clean the lining with it. Air dry the liner with the visor open, but do not use hot hair dryers and keep it away from direct sunlight. Make sure that the lining is completely dry before storing your helmet.

For the visor, do not use any soap or other chemicals especially for iridium visors. Soak a microfiber cloth in warm water, and lay it on top of the visor to soften any dirt, grease, or bugs that have stuck on. Then lightly wipe the excess water away. Do not rub the visor back and forth.

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What is FHR (Frontal Head Restraint)?

A Frontal Head Restraint (FHR) is a vital piece of safety equipment that has grown in use since its introduction in the 1980s. This piece of equipment is worn around the collar and is fixed by the racing harness. It prevents what is called basilar skull fracture, which is an injury sustained during a frontal collision, resulting in serious injury or even death.

Frontal Head Restraints are known sometimes as HANS devices.

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How do I choose the best FHR (Frontal Head Restraint) for me?

There are four angle options for FHR, and the choice depends on the race seat and race car used.

For most races, 20 degree angle FHRs are for most closed cockpit cars such as touring cars, rally cars, and some open-cockpit cars. FHRs with 10 degree angles are used for sprint cars and for very small people. FHRs with 30 degree angles are used for open wheel vehicles. FHRs with 40 degree angles are used for vintage open wheel vehicles and land speed record cars. 

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When does my Frontal Head Restrain (FHR) expire?

There are no expiry dates for Frontal Head Restraints (FHR) under the FIA 8858-2010 standard. However, it is recommended that you replace your device every five years, if it shows signs of damage, or if it was used in the event of an accident. If the tethers show signs of fraying or damage, they can be replaced.

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How do I choose a race harness that is best for me?

As a general rule, a 6-point harness is best for any purpose. The two crotch belts protect against "submarining" - when a driver slides down the seat towards the footwell in the event of a frontal collision. However, most races below the national level allow 4-point harnesses.

It is important to note that FIA harnesses with the 8853-1998 standard will no longer be allowed in FIA-sanctioned events beginning 2022.

If you are using a Frontal Head Restraint (FHR), you must use a harness with the 8853-2018 standard, as it is the type that is designed for use with FHR. It is also recommended that you use a harness with 2" shoulder belts, which fit securely on the shoulder rests of your FHR. Harnesses with 3" belts will not fit properly over your FHR.

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When does my race harness expire?

There are two FIA standards for race harnesses - 8853-1998 and 8853-2016 standard for harnesses. Both only have a usable life of five (5) years from the date of manufacture. On each belt there is tag that says "Not valid after 20XX," where 20XX is 5 years after the date of manufacture.

However, all harnesses manufactured after 2017 follow the 8853-2018 standard, and when the last batch of 8863-1998 harnesses expire in 2022, they will not be allowed for FIA-sanctioned competition.

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When does my race seat expire?

There are two accepted FIA standards for race seats: 8855-1999 and 8862-2009.  Based on the FIA 8853-2016 standard for harnesses, they only have a usable life of five (5) years from the date of manufacture. On each belt there is tag that says "Not valid after 20XX," where 20XX is 5 years after the date of manufacture.

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Can I use my karting gear for auto racing?

The short answer is no. Karting suits, gloves and shoes are designed for resistance to abrasion and tearing that can come from karting accidents. However, they are made mostly of polyester, which is highly flammable, and so dangerous when used for auto racing.

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How can I make sure that I am buying genuine products?

Sadly, there are countless sellers offering counterfeit Sabelt, Alpinestars, Sparco and many other racing equipment brands. Some of these fakes look just like the real thing, though they will not have the same safety, durability, or performance as the real thing.

To ensure you are buying genuine products, contact the manufacturer through their website or Facebook page and ask who their official representatives are. AutoPerformance Motorsport, through AutoPerformance Ph, officially distributes Sabelt, Alpinestars, SparcoStilo, Zamp and Stand 21 FHR.

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Where can I have race seats and harnesses installed?

It is best to go to a shop that works on race cars, but if you want to do it yourself it is possible. Seats and harnesses come with installation guides that can show you the correct way to secure your safety equipment properly. Also, take note that there are specific bolts, mounting plates and other hardware specifically made for racing equipment, and these are not found in just any hardware store. The correct mounting and installation hardware is available at AutoPerformance Motorsport.

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