The SFI Foundation, Inc. (SFI) is a non-profit organization established to issue and administer standards for specialty/performance automotive and racing equipment. Many of the standards are adopted as part of the rules of race sanctioning organizations. Ultimately, the racer benefits from the program as it establishes recognized levels of performance and quality for a particular product. SFI performs scientific testing on all products which fall under one of their specifications. Some items that carry SFI certification are driver’s suits, gloves, shoes, helmet supports, belts, and window nets.
The SFI specification for driver’s auto racing suits is 3.2A. This classification rates the length of time the selected suit offers protection from second degree burns in an approximation of a raging gasoline fire between 1,800 and 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit. The test performed by SFI on suits determines the Thermal Protection Performance (TPP) of the garment. The TPP rating measures the length of time the person wearing the garment can be exposed to a heat source (direct flame or radiant heat) before blistering of the skin occurs. To calculate the protection time of a particular race suit, simply divide the TPP number by two to establish the approximate protection time in seconds. As shown in the chart, there are several SFI ratings for driver’s suits with different TPP ratings. The higher the SFI rating, the more protection the suit will provide.
Check the rules for your sanction and/or class to be sure that you are purchasing a product that will meet the necessary requirements. We highly recommend purchasing items that carry the highest SFI ratings available – even if your rules do not require that level of protection.