Choosing the Right Safety Harness

Is a 3-inch belt enough?

First, consider the size. Most belts are 3 inches wide. Sport compacts, hobby stocks, modifieds, and sprint cars all use them. Some belts are 2 inches wide. Smaller cars like cage carts, quarter midgets, and junior sprints use these. Check your local track or series rules to discover if a specified size is required.

Simpson Hans snare

Then it’s a matter of racing. Except that some 3-inch harnesses offer 2-inch upper shoulder belt options. These are called ‘HANS’ belts. These thinner belts fit better on HANS shoulders. Some belts can be upgraded for HANS use by upgrading the shoulder belt parts. Learn more about HANS devices in this Toolbox article.

Choosing the Right Safety Harness

What Belt Length Do I Need?

Here are some reasons why you might require a longer belt. Others are longer to accommodate attachment points not exactly below the seat. In some race cars, such as quarter midgets, the belts must be longer to reach the bars. Bolt-in, wrap-around, or both harnesses. They have a triangular bracket at the belt end that bolts into a welded spud or tab. These brackets are usually stitched in and not detachable. Wrap-around harnesses are simply that: a belt that wraps around a frame gusset and through a buckle several times. Racing Harness/Shoulder Pad/Sternum Protector Kit is a terrific choice. Some belts have a wrap-around buckle and a bolt-in triangular bracket that the belt can be run through and fixed into the harness. The bracket converts the wrap-around belt into a bolt-in. Please see our prior harness belt guide for suitable mounting combinations and belt angles.

Simpson Cam Lock Belt

The Simpson Six Way Cam-Lock Harness is an example of a latch-type harness. Latches come in two varieties: latch-and-link and cam lock. The most common belt is the latch-and-link. They work like a hook and loop. The shoulder and sub belts slide onto the loop, and the hook secures it all together. The cam-lock latch is a hub. The shoulder, sub, and other lap belts click into the cam latch like a streetcar seat belt.

Activating a cam-release inside the latch, pulling or rotating a lever simultaneously releases all belts. Generally, cam lock belts are easier to use but cost more. The latch-and-link belts are practically foolproof but need some practice and don’t release as quickly.

Five-point harness

A close-up of the latch-and-link belt latch clarifies the design. The link loop end of the right lap belt is sewed in, and the sub strap end buckle and both shoulder strap end buckles slip over it. Finally, the left lap belt’s end buckle is slid over the link loop’s end, and the left belt’s latch lever is pressed towards the belt webbing, locking all five belt segments in place.

5 Point Harness Cam Lock

This close-up of a Simpson belt shows the cam lock style fastener. The belt, like the latch-and-link, begins with the main latch assembly on the right lap belt. But that’s about all. They all have a “tongue” like a production automobile seatbelt that can be put into the cam lock latch individually. This helps with self-belting. That’s when you twist or pull the cam lock lever to simultaneously release all the belts.

What’s the Best Belt Adjustment?

Another factor to consider is each belt’s adjustability. There’s ratcheting and pull-up. A pull-up belt tightens by drawing the “tail” upward toward the latch. These belts are easier to tighten. A pull-down design tightens the belt by pushing the “tail” away from the latch. These are easier to tighten for the driver. Finally, ratcheting seat belts feature a mechanism on the left side lap belt that can be adjusted much further than just tugging on the “tail”.

Hooker Strap

They use a 1/4-inch ratchet and a latch-and-link type latch. Race vehicles with enough room around the left side of the seat to mount and access the ratcheting mechanism use ratcheting belts like a Hooker Harness. These may need a stud or additional frame bracket.

What is a 6-Point Restraint?

Last but not least, decide whether you want to utilize a traditional 5-point belt or a contemporary 6-point belt. The 6-point harness has two sub straps, compared to the 5-point harness’s single sub strap, which runs straight down the center of the groin area. Before making a choice, examine your race seat and belt installation locations. A 6-point belt wrongly placed is no better than a 5-point belt. Also, check your sanctioning body’s or track’s rules, as some need the 6-point belt arrangement. Whichever system you choose, make sure it is correctly installed.

Installing a Safety Harness

Your new harness will be secured into your race car depending on your cage style, seat type, and more. Generally, avoid mounting to any location not intended to handle the harness end. The belts should be mounted in double shear with a bolt-in tab on the end. Assists the belt/harness to pivot and align with the collision force. Avoid putting a bolt-in tab where any load might bend it. This image depicts this concern. Less than 10 degrees below the horizontal plane of your shoulder, your shoulder belts should attach to a cage crossbar, and your lap belts should sit across your pelvic bone with the buckle around two inches below your navel Sub strap: fastened directly behind your chest plate. The belts should not rub on the seat apertures or other sharp interior panels and should be as short as feasible.


SFI (SEMA Foundation Inc.) is a non-profit certification and testing organization for the motorsports sector. To assure the user’s safety, a product must be certified. Racing suits, helmets, and safety belts all have SFI ratings. SFI 16.1 safety belts are certified for two years. Why only two? Many factors, such as sun fading the webbing material, dirt, and dampness, all contribute to belt weakness. Over two years, harnesses can lose up to 50% of their strength, necessitating replacement. Also, if the belts have been in an accident, they should be replaced promptly owing to the stretching stresses.

As you can see, there are numerous possibilities for harnesses. Examine your rule book, plan your race, and choose your neck constraint. If the belts don’t attach directly behind the seat, measure the length and consider the latch and adjustability. Remember, your race car’s safety components are more vital than you.