top of page
Your First Race

Safety and technical tips for the new competitor

They say that experience is what you get, right after you needed it!

This might just help…

Here are a few preparation tips and observations from competitors that might just save you time and money, or keep you a bit safer on the track.

Much of this section is safety related. While there have been very few injuries in past Trofeo Series races, we want to keep it that way, and encourage all competitors to do everything they can, to enjoy their motorsport as safely as is possible.


Make sure the brakes have been recently bled, using good quality, high boiling point brake fluid, straight from a new container. Brake fluid absorbs water from the air. The fluid can then boil under race conditions and cause sudden brake failure.

Use good competition grade brake pads. Brake pads made for road use (yes, even most of the “performance” pads) will be badly affected by heat and can degrade and cause brake fade, even after only three or four laps. Good quality race pads will give more consistent braking throughout the race, and are a necessity, both for safety, and to be competitive.

Do be aware that racing pads may need to be “warmed up” for maximum effect and may not be ideal for use on the road.

Hint! Some brands of racing pads seem have around 2-3mm of heat shielding material between the friction material and the backing plate. This does not last long under race conditions. Changing the pads while there is still a reasonable covering of friction material left on the pad is good practice, and may avoid unpleasant surprises during a race !

Ignition Circuit Breaker / Isolation switch

If your car is a warranted, registered, road legal vehicle, and the standard ignition switch is in reach of the driver when seated, and with safety harness secured, then a separate circuit breaker is not needed.

If the car is a dedicated racing vehicle, an outside means of triggering the isolation switch must be located near the lower windscreen mounting area, and marked with the appropriate symbol.

Check Schedule A in your current Motorsport Manual for details of requirements.

Seat Belts

The four point or five point safety harnesses used in racing provide a high level of safety but need to be worn properly for your protection.

IMPORTANT - Make sure that the lap belt is securely fastened low down, across the bony parts of your hips rather than over the soft stomach cavity.

In a high speed collision, there is a possibility for a belt pressing hard into the stomach area to cause severe internal injuries.

Using a 5 point harness with the crotch strap fitted can help stop you sliding under the belt ( known as “submarining”) in a crash, and may reduce injury should the worst happen...

Seat belts stretch considerably in an accident. Keep the length of the belts to a minimum. Mounting the belts in an approved manner, on the roll cage behind the driver, rather than just using the old rear seat belt anchorages, can help reduce the length of the belt. The roll cage is also less likely to deform than the body shell, and the scope for injury can be lessened.


Seat belt expiry dates. Check the expiry dates and specs before you buy. The two most common specifications for racing seat belts are the American SFI specification and the European FIA specification. These belts have expiry dates after which they cannot be used in competition. SFI belts have a date of manufacture on them, and are valid for 2 years from that date. FIA belts have a five year period of validity on them but can be used for a further 5 years, after which they cannot be used again for racing. Check Schedule A in the Motorsport Manual for the list of approved harness specifications for the events you are competing in.

Roll cages

With well built roll protection, the car will be more rigid, handle better, and you will be much safer if it all goes “pear-shaped” out on the track. Extra time and money spent on the roll protection is a wise investment.

Side intrusion bars are optional in some classes, but are highly recommended.

Roll protection must be built to the specifications in the Motorsport Manual and individually inspected and approved by MSNZ. If you are thinking of having a roll cage built, get competent advice first! A committee member or one of our competitors will be able to help you with information or with finding a licensed scrutineer to help.

Roll hoop only required – that sounds like a real cost saver ! Well the rules do say that you can race with just the rear roll bar, so you can if you really want to. It is most strongly recommended that a full roll-cage be fitted to all cars. The car will be more rigid, handle better, and you will be much safer.


Polyurethane (Nolathane) suspension bushes can be fitted in all classes in the Trofeo Series and can be beneficial in making your car’s handling more responsive.

Hint - Very occasional breakages of rear suspension arms in Alfa 33s have occurred when fitted with polyurethane bushes on the rear suspension. Careful checking for cracks during pre-race preparation is advised.

Engine Bay

Cam belts, tensioner pulleys and fan belts – These components are relatively inexpensive to replace but the consequences of failure can be expensive indeed. Check that they are in good condition before competing. If in doubt, replace!

Engine oil – The Alfa Romeo “boxer” (i.e. flat 4 -Alfasud/Alfa 33) engines, are generally very reliable but can suffer from oil surge and loss of oil pressure under race conditions. Running an additional 1cm of engine oil over the full mark on the dipstick will minimise oil surge and help preserve engine life. (Not generally required for the 16 valve version)

Clean, good quality oil along with a clean, quality oil filter is a must for engine longevity. 

Fuel lines – Deterioration can be an issue in some older Alfas. Check that the fuel lines are in good condition, and have not become hardened, cracked or weakened. Replace only with quality approved fuel hose.

Free extra horsepower? – Check that your accelerator cable is properly adjusted and that your throttle is actually opening up 100% !

Throttle return springs - Check that there are at least two springs to close the throttles when the accelerator is released, and that there are no obstructions near to the throttle linkages that might jam the throttle open.

A clean air filter is a necessity for the engine to breath properly. While you could run without an air filter, this is not advised as inhaled dust and grit can cause premature wear on your engine.

Keep it cool, racing can put more heat into the engine than it is used to. Make sure that the radiator is clean, and in good condition and the cooling system filled with clean coolant.

Refueling & Fire Extinguishers

All competitors are required to comply with the MSNZ Code of Practice for Motorsport Fuel - Storage and Handling. In particular please note that;

When refuelling the vehicle, competitors are required to have a crewmember [fire marshal], ready with an armed fire extinguisher, who is not part of the team carrying out the refuelling process. Fire resistant protective overalls, balaclava, gloves etc are recommended for competitors' team members involved in sprint race and service area refuelling.

All personnel not involved in refuelling must be vigilant and members of the public need to be kept well at least six metres away from the area.

The most common way of refueling in the Trofeo pit area is to ask another driver (in overalls) to stand by with a fire extinguisher while you re-fuel, and then to return the service for them while they re-fuel. 

Must be a minimum of 0.9kg dry powder, securely fitted to the car. Make sure it is properly bolted in, using a minimum of two, six mm bolts, and large washers under bolt heads. The mounting bracket must be of metal, capable of holding the extinguisher in a collision. Two metal straps are required to secure the extinguisher.

Plastic mounts are not permitted as they will fail in a collision and allow the extinguisher to bounce around the car. This can cause serious injury!

Re-fueling in Pit Garages

In a pit garage or individual service area in a service park:

  • All competitors must have at least one (for each car) Multi Purpose dry powder extinguisher (minimum size 4.5 kg), in their pit garage or service area at all times.

  • The fire extinguisher must be in an accessible location to the front of the area.

  • In pit lane: In addition to the extinguisher(s) in the pit garages, all teams shall have at least one Multi Purpose dry powder extinguisher (minimum size 4.5 kg), that is taken to pit lane each time the race car is testing or in competition. 

Fire Extinguisher - In Car

Must be a minimum of 0.9kg dry powder, securely fitted to the car. Make sure it is properly bolted in, using a minimum of two, six mm bolts, and large washers under bolt heads. The mounting bracket must be of metal, capable of holding the extinguisher in a collision. Two metal straps are required to secure the extinguisher.

Plastic mounts are not permitted as they will fail in a collision and allow the extinguisher to bounce around the car. This can cause serious injury!


Crash Helmet

Your helmet must carry one of the approval types in the current Motorsport manual.

Check the approvals in Schedule A in the Motorsport Manual before you buy !!!

The helmet is not an item to save money on

Got a $10 head - get a $10 helmet says the old slogan !


Hands/Neck Restraint Devices (Hans)

Consider purchasing a Hands/Neck Restraint device together with a compatible helmet. 'Hans' devices are now available at club entry level pricing. Many suppliers offer packages. There are numerous videos that very clearly show the benefit of using a Hans device which assist support of the head and neck in an impact situation. While they take a bit of getting used to, you will very quickly adapt to this piece of equipment.

Buy the best you can afford and look after it well, protect it from bumps & scratches and it will protect you. Consider replacement after 5 to 7 years, and periodically check that there is no corrosion building up inside the buckles, which can wear through the webbing.

Personal Racewear/Gear

The minimum standards of Racewear Gear will change from 1 April 2018. For full details please refer to Motorsport NZ website

However briefly our racing is conducted at National Level - you need to meet the A, B requirements listed in the chart.

Multi-layer overalls/race suits, underwear, gloves, balaclava, socks & race boots meeting the standards are required.

Shop from a reputable source! Danger! Danger!

There have been increasing incidences of fake gear being sold/imported into New Zealand. Check our Facebook page for a shared video (June  2017) on tests done on gear bearing the label 'Sparco' but very definitely not 'Sparco' in origin. It's very frightening that gear sold as flame-resistant is totally the opposite.


Our best advice is to support our local established suppliers, most offer good entry point pricing without compromise to your safety; some suppliers offer New Racer packages to help you get underway.

Remember that if a deal sounds too good to be true...

Driving gloves?

Highly recommended & mandatory from 1 April 2018 Good driving gloves of leather and fire-resistant nomex will help your grip on the steering wheel, and give you protection in case of a fire.

Need convincing? Just think of all the things you couldn’t do for yourself with two burned hands. From eating your dinner to far more humble activities. Think about it!

Racing boots?

Again mandatory from 1 April 2018 and No they aren’t just made like that to look “cool”. Good quality racing boots incorporate fire resisting nomex and leather construction to minimize injury in case of fire, and are built to help you control your car better.

The light sole will allow good feel on the pedals and the sole will not have a ridge protruding out, to get stuck under pedals when racing.

Also, for those endowed with large feet and minimal room between the pedals, racing boots are significantly less bulky than normal shoes or sneakers The economical spacing of some Alfa pedals is much less of an issue in good racing boots !

What not to wear when racing!

Avoid wearing clothing, socks or even underclothing made of nylon, or other synthetics that might melt in a fire situation.

The amendment effective 1 April 2018 (link above) will establish minimum standards on most items, however its worth remaining mindful of any other items that you may wear from time to time.

Even if it is a terribly wet meeting, avoid the temptation to keep your wet weather gear on, while in the car!

Synthetics will melt in a fire and cause terrible burns. Wool and cotton don’t melt, have fire retardant properties, and are very much safer.

Women racers also need to consider bra options - even 100% cotton material pieces still have metal or plastic fittings. A group of women are currently investigating options, Nomex sports bras may suit some racers.

Also take care if you wear any jewellery, that it isn’t likely to cause injury in an accident or emergency. Even a simple gold chain, pulled hard against the skin, under a seatbelt in an accident, can leave some very uncomfortable lacerations.

bottom of page