January 6, 2023


Recently we have looked in more detail at motorsport racing safety certification and standards from FIA and SFI and what that means for driver’s safety and the type of equipment they need.

From the early years of open-wheeled single-seater motorsport, it became obvious that improvements to safety would not just depend on the design of cars and tracks but also on the kit the drivers used themselves.

Discover the must-have pieces of racewear needed for motorsport & what you should look for when buying individual items.

What should racing drivers wear?

There are 3 top categories when it comes to protecting drivers and they are; headwear, body protection and accessories.  Here we deep dive into the must-have pieces of racewear equipment you need for motorsport and what you should look for when buying individual items.


Top of the body (and our list) has to be a race helmet and balaclava.  Racing helmets are pretty obvious safety wear for a driver, protecting your skull and brain from flying debris or during a crash is essential.

Why do F1 drivers wear balaclavas? The primary purpose of the balaclava or headstock worn under the helmet is to protect the driver’s head in the event of a fire.  This head sock then extends down the driver’s neck and meets with the race baselayer to provide seamless protection.

Helmet Materials

Believe it or not, motorsport racing helmets are made with the same ultra-strong materials that teams build cars with! Helmets have to adhere to tough FIA and SFI standards to ensure it is strong enough to survive an accident. The inside of the helmet is full of special padding to ensure the helmet – although bulky – is as comfortable as possible for the driver, and also adds further protection in the event of an accident.

Balaclavas ( also known as head socks)

Drivers also wear fireproof balaclavas (a knit cap for the head and neck) to protect their heads in the event of a fire.   Worn with fireproof base layers or motorsport underwear, a head sock forms a protective, fire-proof layer which provides a vital barrier against heat or flames.

By wearing a balaclava, you are not only protecting your head from the risk of fire, but you will also be keeping your helmet in the best condition possible.

Some balaclavas feature cooling features (here at Walero we specialise in this using NASA technology!)  to help improve the airflow around the driver’s heads as well as moisture-wicking materials to draw the sweat away from the skin.  Look for a head sock which promises great ventilation to keep your head cool while protecting you from the unexpected as you race.


The next item on your race wear shopping list is a fireproof racing suit. Typically a one-piece suit, emblazoned with colour and brands and manufactured from a material called Nomex.  Your race suit should cover your body from your neck to your wrists and ankles.

There are so many different race suits on the market and pricing can vary wildly.

When choosing your racing suit, think about the overall weight. We know that weight makes a huge difference in motorsport with most drivers looking to save as much as possible wherever they can.  Race suits are no exception! Less is definitely more and the lighter the suit, the more expensive it will usually be.

When purchasing your race suit don’t forget your race underwear.  This crucial piece of kit provides an extra layer of fire protection – across your whole body. That’s not the only reason drivers need race underwear though.  These layers help to keep drivers cool and encourage moisture wicking (draws moisture such as sweat away from your body), ensuring your are at your most comfortable when racing.


Every driver should consider the design and quality of their race accessories. We have categorised accessories here to be specially designed shoes, socks and gloves.


Why are racing gloves important?  Simply put, they are the connection between the driver and the steering wheel.  Ensuring a good grip and reduction in the chances of losing control of the wheel are really important factors.

Racing gloves should feature a pre-curved shape with external stitching for optimum fit and feel. Look for palms and fingers featuring high grip silicone print to give an improved grasp when holding the steering wheel. Breathable linings help to keep hands dry (as the drivers perspire!) Some gloves also feature touch screen areas which offer improved sensitivity when using electronic dash systems.

Shoes or Boots

The racing shoe is a mandatory piece of motorsport kit when circuit racing and is strongly advised for use in all other forms of motorsport including F1. Racing boots feature a layer of fire retardant Nomex material to provide the driver with an essential level of protection in the event of fire exposure.

The features you are looking for in a race shoe or boot are thin and flexible soles. This allows the driver to maximise every braking point and apply the throttle in a progressive manner as well as ensure that feet can move from pedal to pedal easily.

Race Socks

Hand in hand, or foot in foot, in this case, the perfect pairing with a race shoe, is the foot sock.

Again, flame and heat-resistant materials are used to protect every inch of the body as well as flat seams to reduce pressure points.  This improves comfort and enhances the strength of the sock.

If you are in need of racing underwear, check out our range and the nearest stockist.  If you are still unsure of motorsports racing safety certification and what that means for driver’s safety have a read of our FIA & SFI Race Clothing Requirements blog.

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