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The Right Race Harness

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While the standard response about what the most important thing in racing is winning, the real priority on every racer’s mind is safety. The safety of themselves, the other racers, and also of the staff and spectators is the top concern of everyone at the track. One of the many steps those racers take to protect themselves is a race sanctioned harness. Properly installing your racing seat belt harness can help it do what you want it to. That is, prevent serious injury if trading paint on the track happens to escalate. Some newer racers may be prone to just buying what they think will work and slapping it in the car. This is NOT how it is supposed to happen.

Just about the only solid recommendation we can make from our research when it comes to harnesses is that the width is best at 3 inches. Beyond that, there is a lot of “It Depends” going on. First, you need to think about where the harness is going. What kind of seat are you using? Do you have a full roll cage or a half ‘cage? What kind of mounting points are available? Made the decision between pull-up or pull-down type belts? How about a 5 or 6 point harness? Bear with us, and we will try to help you figure out what belt would be suitable.

First, the vehicle: Car, truck, modified, whatever it may be. Take some time and look over the various points that you can use for mounting your harness tabs. Generally, avoid using the sheet metal of the vehicle, and try to go for a direct connection to the frame or cage. One of the better methods of mounting is with a double shear design. This allows for the belts of the harness to pivot and align with the force that would be applied in the event of a crash. Avoid mounting a belt tab where it could apply a load that could bend the bolt. Look to the figure to the right for an illustration of the recommended mounting style. Shoulder belts attaching to a crossbar should be about -10° below the horizontal plane of the shoulder.

Lap belts should cross the pelvic girdle snugly, and the “anti-submarine” belt should be anchored slightly behind the plane of the chest.

Now, how about the difference between pull-up and pull-down harnesses? You’ll see them advertised both ways, and essentially it refers to the mechanism of tightening the belts. Pull-up styles are tightened by pulling the tails of the belts upwards, towards the roof of the car. Pull-down, well you get the picture. The vehicle you have, the seats you have, and the room you have, can all contribute to what harness is more suited to your application. The next thing to consider is what your sanctioning body allows.

Once those points have all been addressed, the last main topic is preference. And that is entirely up to you. Harnesses come in a variety of colors and styles, in five, six, and even seven point systems, and various latch styles as well. Just remember to stay within your sanctioning body’s guidelines. So have fun, and be safe!

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