The advent of online shopping has made it easier than ever to source car parts and racing equipment from around the world. Nowadays, thousands of sellers hawking everything from Pirelli tires to Stilo helmets are just a few taps away, ready to take your money. But caveat emptor—while ending up with a pair of counterfeit Gucci sunglasses from China will only hurt your pride, buying bogus safety gear puts your life at risk.
That unfortunately appears to be the case in a brutal video shared on Facebook by Spanish rally racer Luis Monzon on Friday. Filmed from inside a track-prepped car, it shows the unidentified driver rocketing along a track before going off on a tight turn. He's carrying too much speed and sails across the gravel trap to strike the far tire wall at a diagonal angle, at which point his OMP-branded five-point safety harness snaps and sends him smashing into the steering column and dash. Fair warning, it's a tough watch. The driver appears to survive with at least moderate injuries.
Neither the video nor the comments provide any clues as to where and when this was shot, but what's clear is that the man's brush with death was caused by a counterfeit racing harness. Accompanying the clip are a few photos—one showing how the belt tongues literally snapped off in the central buckle, and another showing the very same "OMP" harness for sale on Chinese retailer AliExpress for the low, low price of $36. It should be noted that OMP is a well-regarded brand whose real multi-point harnesses retail for as much as $750.
Obviously there's something fishy about a $36 version of a $500 product. Likewise, it doesn't take any special knowledge to understand that a legitimate piece of race-sanctioned safety gear will be manufactured to extremely strict standards using high-quality materials, while a fake will...not. Counterfeit racing harnesses have been crash tested before, and the results are always horrifying. But rarely is the danger of that reality shown with someone's life at stake.
Speaking of the driver, it's easy to call him a cheapskate and blame him for not exercising the barest minimum of common sense when shopping for vital safety gear. That's not inaccurate. But the harness breaking was actually the last in a string of failures that led to him being on the racetrack in the first place, starting with the tech inspection.
From the rollcage to the driver's racing suit to the giant number outlined on the windshield, it's clear the crash occurred during some sort of amateur or semi-pro club racing series. So while there are varying degrees and standards, any series operating at this level should have an in-depth harness check as part of the tech inspection. A close look by someone with experience would have revealed the fake rig was far too light, that the materials were off, that it was a danger to the driver. This should have been caught at some level.
Still, it's an effective reminder to always double- and triple-check anything vital you snag online for a sweet discount. Nothing less than your life is at stake.