Best Racing Seats For 2021
If racing is in your future, you’re going to need proper seats. Or, if you’ve already been racing in your vehicle’s stock seats, you’re likely tired of sliding around or leaning in the opposite direction when you take fast corners. Racing seats, sometimes referred to as “bucket seats,” can be safer, more supportive and lighter weight than standard factory seats, and they’ll hold you in place much more securely. As you build track experience, you’ll probably also find yourself needing to install a racing harness to continue going faster, and racing seats are necessary to accommodate harnesses.
The seat is where the main area where the driver comes into contact with the car, so it’s possible to feel more of the car’s handling response through competition seats. Sitting fully upright with assistance from a racing seat’s higher leg and upper body supports will reduce the risk of miscalculating distances at speed and losing control. Finding the right race seat for the most comfortable fit allows you to focus on driving instead of discomforts. Below we present you with five of the best racing seat options for a variety of needs, on or off the track.Read Less
The Best Racing Seats for Big Guys
Picking out a well-fitted and comfortable seat is a crucial step for any driver. But for larger guys and gals in the racing community, finding their ‘Goldilocks’ seat—the one that fits just right—can be an expensive and time-consuming process.
By “big guys” we mean anyone who is either too tall or too broad (or both) to fit comfortably into an ordinary racing seat. Tall drivers know well the annoyance of constantly bumping their head against the roof of the car, especially when wearing a helmet. Wide drivers, on the other hand, have gone through all kinds of regular-sized seats and found one after the other to be too tight, too narrow, too cramped, or even a bit claustrophobic. These categories are not mutually exclusive, and many drivers have dealt with both problems in various contexts.
Luckily, two brands in particular—Corbeau and Sparco—have stepped up to the plate to offer a several models of large racing seats with many special features and enhancements to choose from. Corbeau excels at producing large, affordable, yet still top-quality racing seats. It offers recliners for off-road racing vehicles such as Jeeps and trucks as well as fixed-back seats for competitive racing. Sparco has pioneered seat design with their patented QRT manufacturing method. They make durable and extremely lightweight fixed-back seats that, while more expensive than Corbeau’s on average, can easily accommodate big guys while still fitting into most cockpits.
In this list we’ll be looking at a variety of seats for the tall, the broad, or any combination of the two. These models have been selected based on comfort, innovation, style, and price. We’ll also discuss the often overlooked second problem large drivers deal with: fitting a pair of large racing seats into a regular-sized car. We’ll first investigate some Corbeau reclining and fixed-back seats and then check out Sparco’s collection of fixed-back QRT models.
MOMO Daytona EVO XL Race Seat
Corbeau Moab Reclining Seat
The Corbeau Moab is a reclining seat that is ideal for big guys looking for off-road adventure. Named for Moab, Utah, the ruggedly beautiful desert town where off-road vehicles test their limits, this seat likewise pushes the limits of comfort and lateral support while maintaining a sleek and minimalist design. It weighs 24 lbs. and measures in at 37 x 21 x 19.5 x 21.5 inches. See the diagram below for more details.
Injection molded foam provides the Moab additional support, minimizes body shifting, and makes getting in and out easier. Because this seat has very little bolstering, it is able to accommodate large body types while still fitting into most racing vehicles (though it’s still a bit large for smaller cars). It is ideal for broad drivers with a 40” waist size, though a representative from Corbeau assured us that the Moab can accommodate up to a 42” waist.
CLICK HERE FOR A VIDEO REVIEW OF THE CORBEAU MOAB
The Corbeau Moab is a direct bolt-in to most Jeep CJ-5 models, as well as all CJ-7 and YJ models. In fact, it has become quite popular in the Jeep community for its easy installation and capacity to provide additional support without disrupting the look and style of the vehicle. Corbeau offers several materials and colors to match the interior of your Jeep, such as black vinyl, gray vinyl, vinyl and cloth combinations, and black neoprene. Many participants in Moab’s annual Jeep Safari no doubt sport Moab racing seats.
A Jeep with Corbeau Moab seats installed. Source: Jeep Forum.
With harness slots, the Moab is ideal for customers running 4-point or 5-point belts. Additionally, with Corbeau’ custom seat-mounting brackets, the Moab can bolt into to just about any vehicle without much hassle. Several additional features available for purchase include an anti-submarine slot (a slot in the seat bottom for running the anti-submarine strap on a 5-point or 6-point harness), as well as inflatable lumbar support, a seat heater, and a seat saver.
CLICK HERE FOR A VIDEO DEMONSTRATION OF A TALL GUY FITTING INTO A JEEP WITH THE CORBEAU MOAB
Buy from Corbeau: $598 per pair
Corbeau Baja RS and XRS Reclining Seats
The Corbeau Baja RS (left) and XRS (right) are reclining suspension seats suitable for Jeeps and other off-road vehicles.
The Baja RS from Corbeau was one of the world’s first reclining suspension seats. A few years later, Corbeau produced the XRS in an attempt to craft the “ultimate reclining suspension seat” for the off-road driving and racing community. Both employ injection molded foam for long-lasting comfort and support and can accommodate drivers with up to a 42” waist. Like the Moab mentioned above, they are direct bolt-ins to many Jeeps and can be installed into almost any other vehicle with Corbeau’s seat-mounting brackets.
The dimensions of the Baja RS (left) and XRS (right) in inches. The RS includes additional bolstering and slightly more base height. The XRS is taller overall. Source: Corbeau.
As a representative from Corbeau told us, the main difference between the RS and XRS lies in their harness slots, bolstering, and respective heights. The RS has small slits while the XRS features larger plastic slots. The RS has more bolstering on either side, whereas the XRS has less bolstering and is about 2” taller. Both can be purchased with additional inflatable lumbar support, a seat heater, a seat saver, and (for the XRS only) an anti-submarine slot. Either seat is a great choice for big guys looking for a safe, comfortable, and stylish suspension seat.
Buy Baja RS from Corbeau: $618 per pair
Buy Baja XRS from Corbeau: $798 per pair
Sources: Corbeau; Summit Racing Equipment; email interview conducted with representatives from Corbeau (05/14/2020).
Corbeau FX1 Wide
The Wide version of the FX1 is Corbeau’s largest fixed-back seat. It features composite fiberglass technology and is designed with comfort first and foremost. It comprises of a fiberglass shell with a black gel coating, removable cushion inserts, full-body support, and 5-point harness compatibility.
The dimensions of the three models of the FX1 in inches. All are 38” in height, but the Wide model affords additional width and shoulder space. Source: Corbeau.
Whereas many shell seats are side mount only, you can easily bottom mount this seat using Corbeau’s special mounting brackets (see the image below). This lets you slide the FX1 forwards and back after mounting, unlike other comparable fixed-back seats. The back of the shell also has mounting holes for attaching to a roll cage, as is required in the SCAA. Seat savers and side mounts can also be purchased.
Corbeau’s special sliding brackets. Source: Summit Racing.
Whereas the Standard version of the FX1 will fit up to a 38” waist, the Wide version is 1” broader and can accommodate a driver with a waist up to 44”. However, be aware that the shoulder and base widths are both 24.5”. For this reason, it may be difficult to squeeze into smaller cockpits.
Buy from Corbeau: $409
Source: Corbeau; Summit Racing; Racing Seats USA.
Sparco Pilot QRT Racing Seat
The Pilot QRT from Sparco is light, extremely durable, and one of the largest racing seats available.
The Pilot QRT is, according to our research, the largest composite seat on the market. As you can see, it is a halo seat with a narrow, wrap-around head area, integrated head bolstering, and deep side bolstering for added lateral stability and protection in the event of a crash.
The central feature of this seat is Sparco’s patented QRT, or Quick Resin Technology, which allows for a light yet durable shell that is essential for larger racing seats. QRT refers to a manufacturing process that was developed at Sparco’s OEM Composite Laboratory in Italy. Originally inspired by advancements in aerospace technologies, the QRT process aims to produce seats with an exceptional strength-to-weight ratio. The ultra-light shell is wrapped in a non-slip, impact-absorbing, and fire-retardant fabric. This process allows Sparco to offer the lightest fiberglass composite seats on the market, with QRT shell being 7–10 lbs. lighter than a comparable shell made by traditional manufacturing methods. The seat weight comes in at roughly 24.5 lbs. This allows for a total weight reduction of up to 30%. All of Sparco’s QRT seats match the weight ranges of comparable carbon fiber seats at a significantly lower price point. The Pilot QRT is FIA approved.
Dimensions of the Pilot QRT in millimeters. In inches the height of the seat is approximately 40” tall and the shoulder width measures at 25”.
The Pilot QRT is easily Sparco’s widest and tallest seat and offers excellent ergonomics for bigger drivers. We spoke to Kevin Lee, a specialist at Sparco, who guaranteed that this seat is designed with taller and broader people squarely in mind. The Pilot’s QRT shell is a “brand new, super tall design and is not for guys of average height,” Kevin told us. “I myself am six feet tall,” he added, “and that seat is a hair too tall for me.” For anyone with a 40” waist, Kevin assured us that Pilot will be “snug, but it’ll fit.”
Buy from Sparco: $995 per seat
Sparco EVO XL QRT
For drivers six feet and under, Kevin recommended the EVO XL QRT. It comes in four sizes from small to XL and includes all the special features of the Pilot QRT: an ultra-light shell, fire-retardant and non-slip fabrics, and exceptional ergonomics. The XL version is designed to fit drivers with a waist size of 38” and is Sparco’s largest option for a non-head-restraining seat. The Small, Medium, and Large sizes feature waist sizes of 32”, 34”, and 36” respectively. Unlike the Pilot, the EVO XL fits easily into smaller cockpits. Another notable feature is the EVO large back angle rake. This relaxed back angle allows for a very comfortable driving position. Like all non-reclining Sparco seats, the EVO XL is FIA approved.
CLICK HERE FOR A VIDEO REVIEW OF THE SPARCO EVO RACING SEAT
The EVO XL replaced Sparco’s now-discontinued EVO III seat, which was quite large and very difficult to fit into many vehicles. The EVO XL, on the other hand, has slender shoulder support that helps maintain a slim profile for easier installation in a wide variety of cockpits. Additionally, its high-grip fabric at the shoulders keep the driver situated and anti-wear fabric has been added to enhance seat durability.
Dimensions of the EVO QRT L and XL models in millimeters. In inches the height of the XL model is approximately 36.6” and the shoulder width measures at 24.2”.
The EVO is without a doubt Sparco’s most versatile line of products, and the recent addition of the EVO XL makes this seat accessible to drivers of all sizes.
Buy from Sparco: $875 per seat
Sources: Sparco USA; phone interview conducted with specialist Kevin Lee (05/14/2020).
Sparco Chrono Road Reclining Seat
The Large model of the Chrono Road is Sparco’s biggest reclining seat, with a bottom width of 21”.
Sparco also offers this suspension reclining seat designed for larger drivers. Based on a collaboration with Lamborghini, the Chrono Road seat adds comfort and style while providing ample and aggressive side and thigh bolstering. This will protect the driver from even the most demanding lateral force and ensure control and stability during cornering. It features a full suspension bottom and a generous sizing suitable for drivers with up to 40” waists. Tall drivers will likewise find that this seat offers plenty of headroom and can fit some as tall as 6’4”.
CLICK HERE FOR A VIDEO REVIEW OF THE SPARCO CHRONO ROAD
Both Standard and Large models of the Chrono Road are larger than the Medium version, currently not available. Standard and Large models stand at 36.5” tall and have a shoulder width of 22.5”. However, the Large version is about one inch wider at the bottom part of the seat. For more details, check out the Sparco Chrono Road seat dimensions chart. (Note that the downloadable PDF chart is a somewhat out of date, so make sure to consult the chart that appears in your browser.)
Sources: Sparco USA.
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Off Road Race Seats and Harnesses
Safety And Comfort In Seats & Harnesses
Whether you're building up a race truck, prerunner, or just improving the performance of your daily driver and weekend machine, quality seating and safety restraints may just end up on your to-do list. Once the suspension and go-fast goodies are all in place, it may be time to turn your attention to a few ergonomic concerns. Comfortable and secure seating can mean the difference between having fun in your wheeler or suffering, all too intimately, the bumps in the road.
Factory stock seating varies considerably, from downright poor versions of bench seating to decent bucket seats that offer much better support and comfort for traversing rough terrain. Seats should be comfortable for long days on the trail or track, provide good support for your torso, and hold you securely in place so you can stay in control of your vehicle.
There are a number of aftermarket companies that sell performance seating options. The simplest of these are fiberglass or polyethylene-molded bucket seats that can be combined with vinyl covers. The benefits of these seats are low cost and great weather-resistance. When they get dirty, simply hose them down and you're good to go again. The downside of these seats is they typically offer the bare minimum in comfort, offering little or no padding to cushion your backside.
There are also racing seats manufactured from aluminum and supplemented with padding and outer cover. However, these are built more for road racing and not for off-road, where the occupant endures much more violent impact and vertical shock forces.
Higher grade performance seating can be found in suspension style seats offered by a variety of aftermarket suppliers. Such seats are usually constructed from a tubular steel frame and support padding, using a laced cording structure inside a cloth or vinyl covering. While these are a more expensive option over the harder molded seats, suspension seats allow you to ride all day in isolated comfort, smoothing out some of the roughness in the terrain. Additionally, they transfer much less energy from the vehicle into your body.
Stock seats often have their mounting hardware integrated into the bottom of the seat frame. This would include the bracketry used to mate the seat to the floor attachment points and sliders to allow fore/aft positioning of the seat. Aftermarket molded seating may or may not come with any type of mounting hardware, but it is usually available for additional cost. Suspension seats come with simple metal tab mounts, one for each corner. These tabs can be bolted to matching tabs that have been welded to your chassis or cage, or bolted to the floor of your vehicle.
While upping your comfort and posture in your rig, consider swapping over to full harnesses for safety restraints. Stock seatbelts may or may not provide you with all the comfort and security you desire. Aftermarket racing style harnesses come in a variety of configurations, the most common is the four or five-point harness.
A 2-inch or 3-inch lap belt forms two points of security. The 2-inch or 3-inch shoulder straps, one on each side, form two more points. The fifth point is an optional anti-submarine belt that runs from the lap belt buckle down between your legs. This prevents you from sliding too far forward during sudden forward deceleration or hard bottoming of the vehicle suspension.
Along with different belt styles, there are different mounting methods for harnesses. A wrap-around end simply routes the end of the harness belt around a tube running behind your seat back. A metal adjuster plate is used to secure and adjust the harness length. Bolt-in mounts use a metal mounting piece through which the belt is run. This metal piece is then bolted to some point on the vehicle chassis. Snap-in mounts are similar to bolt-in mounts but can be removed quickly for use in another vehicle, or when not needed.
Whether ripping across the desert, sloshing through the mud, or canyon crawling through rocks, good seats and safety restraints make the sport safer and more enjoyable. Adding performance seating can sooth the bumps and hooking up harnesses will keep you firmly tucked into those seats should you fail to keep the rubber side down. But, be cautious about installing and using this gear. If in doubt, consult with the manufacturer or an expert for your specific application. Play safe!
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