Racing Suit Material and Construction
The technology involved with today’s safety apparel is designed to not only protect racers as long as possible, but also to offer comfort. Buying a quality fire suit is like buying yourself time in the event of a fire; the question is, how much time are you willing to buy? The safety apparel offered by Speedway Motors uses two main types of fire-resistant materials: Nomex and fire resistant cotton (FRC) like Proban. Each are unique in design and have been rigorously tested to meet or exceed fire safety needs for the race track.
Nomex is not only the optimal fabric for making quality racing gear, but manufacturers also use it for products that protect firefighters, Air Force pilots and industrial workers. Nomex is a high temperature resistant fiber that will not melt when subjected to flames. When it’s exposed to intense heat, Nomex carbonizes and becomes thicker to provide a protective barrier between the heat source and skin, which gives the racer more time to escape in a dangerous fire. To learn more about Nomex, see DuPont's video about Nomex Thermal Protection.
Proban or similar FRC materials are made by chemically treating the fabric to achieve the flame retardant properties. FRC treated fabrics will decompose after being subjected to heat to form a localized insulating char, which acts as a heat barrier to help protect the wearer. FRC material like Proban will also have a limited lifespan. Simpson Race Products recommends replacing a FRC suit after about 25 to 50 washings. To learn more about Proban material and proper care please see Rhodia's Facts on Proban.