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My Miata Track Car Update – Time For New Safety Harnesses

14 March 2011 4,462 views No Comment

It has been two years since I started campaigning my Mazda Miata on the race track in the form of high performance driving events, and to those savvy to the HPDE game that means one thing – it’s time to change my safety harnesses.  Both of the harnesses in my Miata are SFI 16.1 rated, which means that they meet the requirements of the SFI Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to managing racing and performance safety standards.

The SFI 16.1 standard is widely accepted by the various clubs that I run with, but it does come with one major drawback:  belts which meet SFI 16.1 are only certified to be safe for a two-year period following their manufacture.  The primary reason for this restriction is that over time, the forces encountered out on the race track can stress the webbing of a harness until it can no longer be guaranteed to function up to spec in a crash situation.

The alternative to SFI 16.1 is to purchase and install belts that are FIA certified.  The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile is one of the world’s largest auto racing sanctioning bodies, perhaps most notable for the important roles it has played in F1, World Sportscar and World Touring Car racing.  FIA-spec belts are safe for up to five years, but are considerably more expensive than their SFI 16.1 counterparts.

When I first got involved in track events, I elected to stretch my budget by choosing SFI 16.1 belts over their FIA counterparts.  I went with a camlock six-point Crow formula style harness (named for its dual-loop fifth and sixth points in place of a traditional buckle) on the driver’s side and a more affordable G-Force five-point latch setup for the passenger.

After extensive use, I have been happy with the Crow belts (although they have shown serious adjustment wear).  The G-Force belts, however, haven’t really given me the same warm, fuzzy feeling.  To be fair, the G-Force harness is entry-level, which means that the belt material itself feels much rougher, especially when rubbing on the neck and shoulders during long trips.  The latch system is also tedious and bulky – camlock is definitely the way to go in terms of ease of use and speed of buckling.  When driving on the street, a latch system just isn’t practical.

I was pleased to discover that Crow offers a re-webbing program that will replace the critical webbing in my current set of belts for a mere $50 – a fraction of what I initially paid.  I will also go with a Crow five-point camlock set to replace the G-Force belts in my Miata track car.  I briefly considered choosing FIA replacements, but I could not find a formula-style six-point that I liked and that was reasonably priced.

Has anyone else had success with re-webbing their belts at an affordable rate?  What other manufacturers besides Crow provide this inexpensive service?

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