How to make your race harness safer
Fitting a race harness in your car does not necessarily mean that you are fully protected during an impact. You need to make sure that the harness is mounted correctly into the race car at the right angle and ideal location. There are also other safety features that work in conjunction with harnesses and provide added protection to the driver when going at high speeds. Frontal Head Restraints (FHR) and high-quality race seats ensure that the driver is fully protected on practice and competition days. Learn more about how you can maximise the performance of your race harness and how it interacts with other safety items in your car! Racetech has a range of products available to support your safety.
Harness and seat compatibility
The first step you can take to ensure that your racing harness provides you with its maximal benefits is to fit it into the race car correctly. This can’t happen without having a compatible race seat with harness guides that ensure the harness is placed in the right position on the driver or co-driver’s body. In addition, professional race seats also allow for a crotch strap and fitting a 5 or 6 point harness that stops the driver from submarining in a crash. This happens when a user slides underneath the lap belts during a fontal impact. This puts great pressure on the driver’s body and can cause serious harm during the crash. Having a race seat that perfectly fits the racer’s body type and allows for ideal harness mounting points is crucial to increasing safety during competition.
Correct mounting position
Once you have installed a compatible race seat, mounting your harness to the correct position will be easier. The FIA requires that the distance from the back of the seat to the mounting point only be 200-400mm with an angle between 0 and 20 degrees below horizontal. Meeting these specifications gives the optimum chance for minimising serious injury in an accident. If the harness is mounted at a further distance from the seat, the belt can elongate during a crash, allowing your body to move around on impact. This is likely to cause significant injury when crashing at high speed.
Fitting is often focused on the optimisation of the shoulders, but it is also essential to keep the lap belt tight around your hips, which can again reduce the likelihood of submarining further. Make sure the mounting point is again as close to the side of the seat as possible. The location of the crotch belt mounting point is also important as it ensures that the crotch belt doesn’t foul on the crotch belt hole and that it transfers through the crotch belt hole at an angle within an appropriate range.
The FIA indicate safe and appropriate angles that each belt strap should adhere to when mounting. These angles give the occupants the best chance for the belts to be effective in a crash allowing for the greatest chance of survival.
There are various mounting methods available with race harnesses on the market, but the combination we have seen most sought after and therefore standard across our range, are snaphooks on all straps, but with the ability to unwrap the snaphooks on the shoulder straps to allow for wrap-around cage mounting. At Racetech, we can also customise harnesses and mountings to suit your requirements.
Lap straps almost always clip on to eyebolts. These can either be mounted to the series seatbelt anchorage, or if this isn’t suitable then a new mounting location will have to be fabricated, respecting the mounting angles.
We often get the question of a customer upgrading from a 5 point harness to a 6 point, and they ask if they can retain the existing crotch strap mount for their new 6 point harness. Whilst there is no clear answer in any rulebook, we highly recommend that new anchorages be fabricated to respect the mounting angles for a 6 point harness and give the occupant the best possible protection.
Different Mounting Methods
Wrapping Around the Roll Cage
- This is the most common method we see used for rally and race cars and it also provides a weight saving due to the little to no hardware used. Utilising the 3-bar slide, the belt is wrapped and locked in using friction. A method of securing the belts from moving laterally along the bar should be used with this method.
- These are a very common method of mounting for lap and crotch straps. As standard our harness comes with these on each strap, and includes eyebolts too. Eyebolts are bolted in either the series production mounting or a new mounting if required, and the snaphooks clip on to these eyebolts.
Bolt in Plates
- We can also offer a range of bolt in and pinch plates to suit the application. These do away with snaphooks and essentially use a bolt straight to the mounting location. There is little weight saving here, but this does suit some people’s applications better.
Flat Loops and Carabiners
- Flat loops use a bolt in bar to mount to which we sometimes see for lap and crotch straps but is a very uncommon method. Carabiners come standard on some OMP harnesses and the carabiner acts similar to a snaphook by connecting to an eyebolt.
A Frontal Head Restraint like a HANS device or Simpson Hybrid is an additional safety item that ensures your head and neck are protected during a crash. This device works closely together with race harnesses and further improves driver safety on impact. FHR devices stop the head from moving to far forward in an impact and give you the best chance of survival in a crash. Race harnesses hold the FHR devices tightly on the driver’s shoulders and ensure they are secure during racing and work correctly. The FIA offer installation and instruction guides to ensure you're getting optimal safety out of your HANS device here or Simpson Hybrid here.
Racetech New Zealand stocks a range of race harnesses that are optimised to keep driver’s safe during a crash. However, it is essential to know that on its own a harness likely won’t be sufficient to save you in an accident. You will need to think about the additional safety features that we mentioned, including FHR devices, race seats, and mounting positions. Get in touch with our friendly team if you have more questions about harnesses and their safety features and visit our website to explore our products!