Most sanctioning bodies will require racecars to use some kind of purpose built race seat and restraint system. Race seats are by definition designed for stability and protection. It is vital that the driver be firmly supported. Arms and legs should only be used to operate the vehicle, not to keep the driver from sliding around.
There are many different seat manufacturers offering a variety of materials, designs, and quality. Different types of racing require different seating needs. For example, a road race seat will require more side support than drag racing seat. A NASCAR seat will require more support on the right hand side than an endurance racing seat and needs to be form fitting and comfortable for long stints in the vehicle. Most common materials include carbon fiber, carbon Kevlar, fiberglass, and aluminum. Choosing a material depends on safety requirement of the sanctioning body and your budget.
A race seat will only do its job when mounted correctly. If the seat mounting system fails, tension can be released on the restraint system allowing injury or even death. Make sure your seat is installed by a professional. There are two basic designs that manufacturers use for seat mount locations; side mount and bottom mount. Side mount seats offer better side impact protection than a bottom mount seat. Race seats can also be mounted on rails to accommodate multiple drivers and seating positions. FIA approved rails are required for this type of installation. Fix mounting a seat is the safest method and preferred by most sanctioning bodies. Piper Motorsport has extensive experience in mounting all types of seats in many makes and models. We can accommodate streetcars as well as racecars and of course the "track day" streetcars are also included. In many cases custom-mounting frames can be fabricated for both vertical and horizontal adjustments.
Some sanctioning requires seat back braces but most only require one if the seat is not FIA approved. The purpose is to support the seat and driver from going backward should the seat fail in the event of an accident. The braces are mounted to the roll cage or roll bar for strength and stability. The typical mounting point is the harness bar which runs horizontally in the main hoop of the roll bar or cage. Adjustable braces can be fabricated to accommodate a sliding seat. Buying a seat is a very important choice for any car but even more important in a racecar.
All forms of high performance driving and racing require some form of safety harnesses. Harness selection per application is critical. Most sanctioning bodies have specific rules with regards to type of harness. These rules often specify certification rating, number of mounting points and expiration of manufactured date. Proper installation of harnesses is critical to the performance to the restraint system and users safety. Manufacturer installation guidelines must be followed in conjunction with seat and harness bar position. Often, custom mounting points are fabricated and installed in the required position for maximum performance. Harnesses are available in many different configurations for various applications.
Many sanctioning bodies require window net restraint systems. Window nets are designed to prevent objects from entering side window opening and to keep the drivers arms and head from exiting the vehicle in the event of an accident. The installation of these nets can be challenging due to chassis restraints. The net needs to be installed in a manner that will not interfere with the driver entering and exiting the vehicle, especially in an emergency situation. Window net configurations are available with different release mechanisms and net design. Sanctioning bodies often determine ratings and expiration dates.
Right side head restraint systems are used to minimize the shoulders, head bolster and seat from moving sideways in an impact. These must be installed securely and feature a quick release mechanism for emergency right side exits.