With your first couple of HPDE/Track Days around the corner, it is very common to find yourself buried in an endless checklist of things to remember. As if pushing your street car to its limits wasn’t nerve racking enough, you have to add to the list vehicle maintenance, mechanical inspections, safety equipment, insurance, track etiquette, and the list goes on.
Amongst a flurry of vehicle and track related checklist items, one commonly overlooked topic is your wardrobe. What is the appropriate attire for non-competitive driving events?
Safety is first and foremost. In high performance driving conditions, fire safety ranks high on the list of priorities. You will see that it is very common for participants at non-competitive driving events to be dressed more casual than you would expect; not everyone is out there driving in a full racing suit.
Many clubs/organizations vary on their attire requirements. More commonly, you will find that long pants, long sleeves, and close toed shoes are the standard. They will typically also make the suggestion/recommendation/requirement that garments are made of cotton and/or non-synthetic fibers. As clubs/organizations get more relaxed, short sleeve shirts are commonly accepted, and sometimes even shorts. Always check with your club/organization on their requirements.
If not a full racing suit, or fire rated clothing, can you wear your regular street clothes?
Yes and no. Consider certain requirements and why they’re important. You typically want more skin coverage as an added layer of protection; this is where the long sleeves and pants come in. You want non-synthetic materials; cotton and wool are good options while synthetic materials like polyester and nylon are ones to avoid. Synthetic materials run the risk of melting and fusing to your skin in a fire situation, making things a whole lot messier; cotton and wool won’t protect you from fire, but they don’t have the dreaded melting qualities of synthetic materials. Comfort is a whole other topic; staying warm, cool, and/or dry are all important factors to ensure you’re physically able to focus on driving. Along the lines of comfort, also remember you may have to get dirty and do some vehicle repairs in the pits; those skinny jeans aren’t looking like too good of a choice when you’re trying to crouch under a vehicle with limited tools and clearance.
Just because you don’t wear full fire protection doesn’t mean you can’t be smart.
- Bring layers to make it easier to change and/or add/subtract clothing as needed.
- Bring a jacket that can keep you warm when you’re not in the drivers seat.
- Wear comfortable pants. Chinos, or something similar, can be a good alternative to jeans. You’re looking for stretch, durability, and comfort.
- Wear non-synthetic clothing: 100% cotton and 100% wool are good choices. Be careful of blended materials.