How To Choose a Perfect Race Seat
Choosing a new motorsport seat can seem overwhelming at first glance. There are so many different things to look for, from the size to the shape, the manufacturer to the mounting frames, but this article will take you through the process of choosing a motorsport seat to make it all much less daunting.
Know your space limitations
One of the main factors that you must first consider when looking at buying bucket seats for your race car is your size constraints. For example, an S1 Lotus Elan has so little room within the driver compartment that it would be impossible to try and shoehorn in an extra wide seat with side impact head protection.
All cars have their own limitations with regards to space. Some are narrow at the base due to the width between or height of the transmission tunnel and the sill, while others are narrow near the roof making it hard to fit the wings of the seat or the headrest.
The dimensions for each of the seats that we sell at Racelab are available on our website; and these are incredibly useful when it comes to finding the perfect fit for your car.
Know your physical size
This part is just as important as finding the right size of seat for your car. Drivers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and finding the right size seat will make sure that you’re as comfortable as possible whilst driving.
There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ motorsport seat, which is why we’d recommend that you visit our showroom to try our various display models. If this isn’t possible, then you’ll have to rely on your measurements.
Know if it is a good fit
The first thing to look for is where the shoulder harness slots are positioned in relation to your shoulders. If your shoulders totally cover the hole, then this is not ideal. The shoulder straps of a harness should come horizontally through the hole and then run down the chest, as this is the ideal angle for keeping the driver securely in place. If they have to run vertically through the hole in order to climb over the shoulders before running down the chest, then this is neither a comfortable or safe situation.
Once you’ve found a seat with correctly positioned harness slots it’s time to assess the freedom of movement you have in the seat. This is to ensure that you are able to have a positive level of control over the steering wheel.
Another area to consider is how the seat supports your body laterally, as when you are driving the car at racing speed there are higher loads exerted on the driver. With this in mind it’s important that you look for a seat which has a good level of side and back support to help keep you firmly in place.
Know your mounting options
Now you’ve found a seat that fits both you and the car, let’s take a look at how you are going to mount the seat into the car. All motorsport seats are manufactured to be side mounted, but some also include the ability to be base mounted.
It’s important to remember that seats which are not set up to be base mounted cannot be drilled to make them so, as this will affect the structural integrity of the seat as well as prevent them from passing scrutineering.
After you’ve assessed the comfort and fit of the seat, it’s time to make sure you have the correct seating angle and position whilst in the car.
If your chosen seat has a base mount option then there will not be the ability to change the recline angle of the seat, so you will have a very upright driving position. If you’re using the side mount option, there are a number of pre-drilled holes on each side mount to allow a degree of angle adjustment.
Remember that a good seating position is vital to ensure the correct distance to both the steering wheel and the pedals to obtain the best control with all your inputs to the car.
As not every vehicle floor is not capable of accepting side mounts directly, it may be necessary to create a level platform, on which to mount your new seat. This can be achieved by making your own subframe using a steel box section
If your form of motorsport involves driver changes, you may be thinking of fitting seat sliders to accommodate more than one driver. The only sliders which you can use are those which are double locking because they will not slip in the event of an accident.
Adding sliders will, of course, raise the height of the seat. Keep this in mind if one of the drivers is taller than the other as building the seat mounts up too high can mean that the drivers head will hit the roof.
It’s always worth noting that mounting the race seat as low as possible in the car will help to lower the centre of gravity.
As with many aspects of preparing a race car, there are multiple options available in terms of how racing seats are fitted. The main thing to remember is to make sure the seat is safe and that the installation complies with the regulations for your chosen series.
So, there it is, your comprehensive guide to choosing your next competition seat.