LAST UPDATED: November 5, 2019
Best Racing Seats: Improve Your Safety and Comfort
Improve the comfort, safety, and interior look of your car with these top racing seats
The Review Team
How We Decided
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PUBLISHED ON November 5, 2019
Replacing the stock seats in your car can increase safety and improve your driving experience. This is especially true when you participate in motorsports. Aftermarket racing seats have specialized features such as deeper seats, higher backs, and stronger construction materials. You may not actively participate in drifting, racing, or autocross, but you can still give your car a sporty look. Racing seats will also give your interior an aggressive look. Check out these seats to replace your stock seats.
Sparco seats will give your car a sporty look and are sleek with their all-black styling. The wide holes in the backrest and open side make this seat compatible with your stock seatbelt.
The more open sides of these seats make them more forgiving to those who have extra weight around their midsection. This seat also has a wide-angle range for adjusting the back.
If you have broad shoulders, you might find this seat snug in this area. There is also extra padding in the middle of the seat to separate your thighs, which can be uncomfortable.
The vinyl and velour material feels thin and may not be as durable as other seat materials. You’ll also need to do some modifying if you want to attach them to an F-body bracket.
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Benefits of Racing Seats
- Safety. When used in conjunction with a harness and a roll-bar, racing seats add an extra level of safety to your car. Even some amateur racing homologations require them.
- Stability. If you’re throwing your car into a hard corner, the gravitational force will cause you to slide out of a normal seat. Racing seats hold you in place so you can concentrate on driving.
- Style. Even if you don’t plan on taking your ride to the track, a pair of racing seats adds some flair to your car’s style. A well-coordinated interior can do wonders for a show car.
Types of Racing Seats
Halo seats are the most protective of all racing seats and do the best job of holding you in place. These seats have extra-high backs and a protective shroud surrounding the driver’s head. When the driver is wearing a helmet, this shroud keeps the driver’s head upright during hard cornering. The issue that halo seats present is a lack of side-to-side visibility. It’s difficult to see left and right while in a halo-style racing seat, so they’re best for off-road use. They also must be used with harnesses.
Bucket seats are a more traditional style of racing seat. These rigid seats are usually made of fiberglass or aluminum but may come in lighter-weight materials like carbon fiber. They’re excellent for on-road and track use, as they hold the driver in place but also allow the driver to see out of the left and right side of the car. The drawback of rigid bucket seats is they aren’t easily adjusted. The seat angle can be changed but requires tools and a considerable amount of time and effort. They also require harnesses.
Offering many of the same benefits as a rigid bucket racing seat, adjustable bucket seats also provide easier and more customizable comfort. They operate like any manual car seat, so if it helps, think ‘90s Japanese and German performance cars. They have reclining backs and may even have thigh adjustments. The downside here is that in a crash, they may not provide the level of safety that a rigid seat does. Some can be used with standard seat belts but they won’t hold you in place as well as they do with a harness.
The Turin, Italy-based Sparco has been providing innovative, high-quality safety solutions for the racing world since 1977. The Sparco Fighter Seat has seen the inside of many high-performance vehicles, on- and off-road.
Another Italian motorsports company, MOMO has been developing products for the racing world since 1964. Based in Milan, MOMO makes seats, steering wheels, and other performance products for both the car and the driver. This MOMO 1070BLK Racing Seat will hold you in place so you can take a shot at the podium.
Continuing the Italian theme, OMP calls Genoa home. OMP produces high-quality racing gear, including these OMP WRC-R Racing Seats. They were developed for rally racing, so you know they’ll keep you in the seat.
Racing Seats Pricing
- Up to $200: This range will include mostly aluminum rigid bucket racing seats, but they’ll do the job if you need something to hold you in place while you’re drifting through a corner.
- $200 to $500: Racing seats in this range will be made of quality materials, and may feature reclining seatbacks. The top manufacturers usually offer one or two seats in this range.
- $500 and up: This price range will include the ultimate in racing seat technology. Carbon fiber, kevlar, and other high-strength, lightweight materials can be purchased above this price point. These seats are strong, light, and comfortable.
If you’re going to be using your car for amateur racing, it’s important to check your homologation rules to see if you’re required to use an FIA-certified seat. Even if you aren’t required, FIA-certified seats have gone through rigorous testing to make sure that they are safe and can provide the type of safety you might need in the event you end up in the wall. Also, note that reclining seats cannot be FIA-certified.
You may be able to purchase an inexpensive seat that looks like it was built for racing, but if there are no harness pass-throughs, look elsewhere. These two holes sit above your shoulders so your shoulder straps can buckle into the rear seats or onto a roll cage. Without harness capability, you won’t get the total benefit of a racing seat.
- Fit. It’s important to know if you fit the seat you’ll be purchasing. If you can’t get to a display model in person for a test fit, most manufacturers have measurement charts available online. These charts are meant to compare your body to the width of the bolsters and the height of the pass-throughs. If you’re too small or too large for a seat, it won’t hold you in place like it’s supposed to.
- Size. Different from your body’s fit, checking the size of the seat and how it fits in your vehicle is important. There needs to be enough room at the seating area and shoulder area of the seat for proper fit. Check to make sure there will be room between the console and the seat, as well as the doors and the shoulders. Manufacturers also provide charts for these measurements, so you can get an idea of how a seat will fit.
- Seat Attachment. Rails and seat brackets to mount your racing seat to your vehicle are rarely provided with your purchase. You’ll need vehicle-specific seat brackets, and if you want the seat to be able to slide, you’ll have to purchase an additional slider kit. While not as expensive as the seats themselves, they aren’t cheap, so you should also budget for these.
Best Racing Seats Reviews & Recommendations 2020
Our top choice for Best Racing Seat Overall is the Sparco 00965NR Seat. This particular seat comes in all black and has a reclining feature. There are deep bolsters to hold you in place and this seat can be used in conjunction with your stock seat belts.
This racing seat might inspire your inner-GT driver with all of its features. To start with, the reclinable back makes it perfect for driving to the track. Once there, the deep bolsters will keep your body in place while you make an inside pass. There’s extra room in the mid-section, so if you’re not the thinnest racer, this seat can accommodate you.
While effective on the track, there are a few flaws we’re going to point out. The room in the mid-section doesn’t carry over to the shoulders. Larger-framed drivers may find the shoulder area a little more restricting than we would hope. Also, the extra padding between the thighs may take some getting used to.
If you’re looking for some seat-time but need to do it on a budget, look no further than the NRG Bucket Seat. This rigid race seat comes in an all-red microsuede fabric, and the deep bolsters will hold on to you while you’re working the steering wheel.
You don’t have to hold onto your wallet if you want a seat that holds onto you. At this price point, the NRG Bucket Seat has a lot to offer. We like the extra lumbar support this seat offers. Drivers with back issues may find this seat to be the most comfortable for that reason. We also like the fiberglass material; it’s strong and light with an attractive, sporty look.
There are a few issues we want you to know about ahead of time. For one, the price doesn’t include a harness, but you’ll need one if you want to be safe with this seat as stock seat belts will not work. On top of that, you may find the seat a little snug through the hip area if you’re a larger driver.
The ProCar by Scat Racing Seat deserves our Honorable Mention for the Best Racing Seats. This seat’s fabric is both vinyl and velour, adding some contrast and style to your car. The deep bolsters add extra side-to-side support. They can also be used with a harness or your stock seatbelt.
We’re big fans of this ProCar Racing Seat. We like that this seat offers quite a bit of lumbar support so you can stay comfortable during the long drives you’ll have to take for bigger races. They’re also a little wider than most other racing seats, which is a plus because most seats are built for smaller-framed people. We also like that they’re reclinable.
While the velour-vinyl combination upholstery is nice to look at, we’re not sure how long it will last. The material feels thin and its durability is questionable. Also, if your car has a lower roofline, you may find these seats are a little tall for your application.
- Racing seats fall into four general categories of seat design, depending on their intended use. Choose from reclining, fixed back, suspension, and bench. Reclining seats are a good choice overall for comfort and style.
- Measure your car before you pick out your seats. You need to make sure the seats will fit. Make sure to measure the bottom width, shoulder width, length front to back, and height.
- Don’t forget to confirm that you fit in the seat. If your waist is smaller than 34 inches, then you should be fine. If your midsection is larger, you’ll want to check the seats you’re buying.
Q: Do I need to buy a harness for my racing seats?
A: Take a look at the seats you’re buying to determine what type of harness they can accommodate. Some racing seats work with your stock three-point seatbelt. Other racing seats work with a four-, five-, or six-point harness. If you plan on racing, you’ll want a harness with more points to ensure your safety.
Q: Why is the padding different?
A: Some racing seats are designed for comfort, while others are designed to hold you in place while racing. The padding in the seat will indicate what the intended purpose of the seat is. You’ll want seats with the padding meant for your intended use so you have the most comfort while driving.
Q: How do I keep my new seats clean?
A: Before you do anything, you should check with the manufacturer and follow its directions. You should vacuum them regularly to avoid dirt and crumbs from getting ground into the fabric. You should also be able to spot clean the fabric with a mild detergent.