Race Harnesses: Explained

What is a Race Harness?

A race harness is a specially designed seat belt for racing cars to minimise injury in high-speed accidents. Favoured by NASCAR for their drivers’ safety, the harness can be designed to have four, five or six points of attachment to the car frame, with four or five or six straps to secure the wearer; two straps on the shoulders, two across the hips and perhaps one or two at the crotch where the buckle attaches. There is no better accessory for a sports car than to equip it with the harness it was meant to have.

Types of Racing Harnesses

Getting the right harness for your needs comes down to three choices; four, five or six point attachments, but we have thrown in a couple of other points for you to consider too.

Four point harnesses are considered the bare minimum in racing terms, and are often not enough restraint for legal races. They consist of two straps for the shoulders, and two straps for the hips and certainly limit movement at high speed and in cornering, however, they do not provide an additional strap at the crotch which prevents “submarining” or slipping under the belt in the event of a collision. If nothing else, the four point harness will upgrade your ride to the racing look and give you added security when you are really moving.

The next step up would be the five point harness. This design does provide an additional strap at the crotch to prevent the slipping and keeps the driver secure in the seat, even in the event of a high-speed crash. It is often race legal and will give your car street-cred with real racers. However, some users complain that the fact that there is only one sub-belt, effectively from the seat straight up to your waist, can cause discomfort in the crotch when braking which limits movement and causes unnecessary distraction.

The safest and most commonly used race harnesses in official races are of course the six point harnesses. Since the death of Dale Earnhardt in 2001 when his the single sub-belt of his five point harness failed causing him to break his neck, NASCAR has mandated six point harnesses in all their races. So, if you want your ride to look official, or are a serious racer, six point is the way to go. With the two straps over the shoulders, two straps over the hips and two split straps between the legs from the crotch, they are definitely the more comfortable and secure way to go.

There are a couple of other points to consider when selecting your harness. Firstly, be sure and factor the belt width in you decision. Harnesses come with 2″ or 3″ straps, 2″ may be more suitable for smaller drivers, while 3″ will definitely give you more support.

Secondly, harnesses come with two basic buckle designs; cam lock (a simple twist or lever release mechanism like a standard seatbelt) and latch and link (Sliding metal loops over a link one at a time). The choice can just be down to preference and the look you want, but in a real emergency, the cam lock has a quicker release. Also remember, if you are a hard-core racer, be sure to find out which design your officials favour as they normally require one design over the other.

Why Do I Need a Race Harness?

There are two main reasons why people buy race harnesses for their cars. Firstly, if you are a racer of any description; drag, drifter, circuit, hard-core or weekend warrior, safety comes first. Most tracks will require drivers to have a certain standard of harness to prevent serious injury. In addition, at high speed, when you need to have your head in the game, you don’t want to be distracted by the movement in the car. A harness will keep your body secure while you focus on winning your race.

Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, it is the upgrade your ride needs if you want to look like you mean business. Every sports car deserves to look like it is ready to race.

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