aftermarket seats for motorsports

Now that the chassis and brakes are dialed on the S4, the next thing I can improve is seating. There’s two ways to look at it. First you can improve your seating position, and second you can improve safety. Currently my standard operating procedure at the road course is to slide my seat all the way back as far as it goes, lock the seatbelt with my wrist, and then slide the power seat forward until the shoulder belt is crushing my chest. This is the only way to brace yourself without a 5 or 6 point harness. Other than using your left leg, which is a bad idea for a number of reasons. The ideal seating position is one where the car is tossing your body around like a dead fish but you don’t move far because the seat and harnesses strap you in. Then you’re free to feel the wheel and chassis rotation.

Regarding safety, you can go to a HANS compatible seat (head and neck safety device), which is a brace that attaches your helmet to your shoulders to the seat. The problem is these seats have wings on the side (for side impact crashes) which make the car impossible to drive on the street because visibility is obscured. Fortunately, Sparco makes a seat with removable side wings for $1000 called the Edge. It weighs about 25 pounds with the frame rails. They sell a pure carbon seat for $3500 that weighs 8 pounds (15 with rails), the S-Light.

Sparco competition seats might be overkill. In the OEM plus category, there’s the Recaro Sportster CS. You can order these in red alcantara inserts as standard, or custom order them in red nappa leather for some extra cash. They’re about $2000 a seat all in and weigh about 30 pounds with the rails. Figure double price for the nappa leather to match Audi magma red.

Of course to use a multi point harness with these you need a roll bar installed in the back seat. TC Design in San Jose does the best work in the business on these. They weld a custom tube assembly, and can make it bolt on or weld it directly on to the chassis.

Stick to the Recaro Sportster CS - it keeps the Audi interior as if it came from the factory. Those bolsters on the Sparcos are ridiculous. If you’re set on using a harness they have a set up that will attach to the rear buckles. I’ve never used these but they do exist and is probably your best route without installing a bar. A HANS setup is a bit overkill for a car with an airbag…just my opinion.

I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong but using the rear buckles is not safe. In case of an accident it forces all the pressure downward potentially causing back injuries. If he’s using a hans harness and the bolsters on the sparco at removable I’d say they’re a good option. My question about the removable head bolster is how well they are secured.

I’ve seen this all discussed at times and I’m no expert…but I believe a big issue with this kind of recreational safety equipment is that you should have a full roll cage. Else, in the event of a roll over, the roof could come crushing down and you won’t be able to avoid it. While for a regular lap belt, you can slide out of the way.

The way I see it, at HPDE’s there are 3 types of cars:

  1. Nice cars in the beginner/intermediate classes that are stock with safety equipment, with some people doing the harness into rear buckle thing with the type that break one of the shoulder harnesses on impact so you don’t need a HANS;

  2. Nice cars in the advanced groups where they are completely stock and driven by good drives, they usually hold back and don’t push the cars hard, these are usually their daily drivers while they have other track cars that they didn’t bring.

  3. Track cars in advanced groups. Trailered usually, but fully raced out with all the cages and necessary safety equipment. Usually older cars but some exceptions. Lots of old M3’s. These are the people who seem to crash the most.

At some point how about just buy a dedicated track car? I can’t imagine doing all of this stuff to my daily driver S4 just to attend a few HPDE events a year. Waste of money IMO.

I’m glad to see you go down the seating path! That’s some proper weight reduction right there.
The fact that you are actually strapped snuggly into the car will drop the lap time too.

I would not go with reclinable if you are serious about a roll bar. It is just not safe. In a rear end impact, the seats recline excessively and you greatly increase chances of head injury with a rear roll bar. See test video of a rear end impact (not even at speeds and g forces you would be dealing with at the track btw):

Note also that all reclinable street seats are built to DOT regulations in the USA. DOT regulations only require a max of soemthing like 9G at 150lbs for the seating structure. On the track in a real impact, if you look at any data log info from a race team, you are easily doubling that G force figure. The reclining seats are simply not meant to work in these situations.

If you are serious about this, going to any 1 piece, FIA approved bucket is the ticket–get one that is intended for a cage (ie: not the tube frame steel seats–even some 1 piece seats are not approved for a cage without a back brace). Sparco Rev/Circuit/Pro/Evo, any Recaro from the motorsport line etc. Look for the proper stuff, and do not skimp on the brackets.

Think about how you are going to deal with the seat belt recepticale and think also about ingress and egress. It will be difficult with a proper bucket. If you are concerned about ingress/egress and want to maintain streetability, the Recaro pole position and Sparco Evo are good choices.

Oh and do not get a seat with a halo for street use.
Byebye looking backwards!
Would be a pain to park it and look out the rear windows/rear quarter windows.

As I dig into this, it looks like it makes sense to use OEM seat belts with a Recaro Sportster CS. The 4 point is useless and in some accidents, less safe to the point of major injury. So that would obviate the need for a rollbar.

The other end of the spectrum is a $2500 custom fabricated bar setup for the rear, 6 point harnesses, and some Sparco seats like this:

Or this:

I would sit in a few to get a better idea what your looking for. I have a Bride Zeta 2 and absolutely love it but I’m 160 pounds and 33" waist. I’ve never sat in a reclinable that was as snug as what I like for track use.

I bought an S4 over 5 years ago. The only real reason I have it at this point is to take it to a track. We have a 2015 Boxster. I like tracking the 3.0TFSI with quattro.

It would be tough for me to buy a Cayman GT4 for $92k and go balls out with it. Thinking back, it was risky to take the S4 on track when it was new. I really couldn’t afford to make a mistake, so I just didn’t. If I take the Boxster out it’ll be for 1 day and I’ll be going 8/10th.

I have heard this as well but can’t confirm regarding the rear buckles.

I took the Sportster CS route and opted to maintain the factory harness. Occasionally I daily my B5 so strapping into a harness while wearing a suit was not really an option. You’ll need brackets and sliders so your estimated cost is $2200 per seat - maybe more if you go bonkers with colors or fabric choices.

I usually post a pic in all “what seat should I buy” type threads. In fact there is another thread on here regarding seat choices.

You can get away with using a 3 point belt on some of these seats.
The evo in particular, i know you can. You run the lap belt through the belt harness slots and it’ll work out. The bolsters are not tall enough to prevent proper operation.

The difference between a 1 piece bucket and even a very excellent reclinable is huge. As someone else suggested, go sit in some. You’ll notice a large difference. If your primary consideration is being held in the car during track work, you’ll ultimately want a 1 piece bucket. I would only ever go reclinable if streetability was ever a priority–and fwiw, you can install the seat warmers in the sportster cs…

Careful with head room though - Not sure if the sportsters sit higher than OE or not. I dunno about you, but for me and my preferred seating position, my helmet can sometimes hit the roof liner as is (and my seat is already all the way down btw). This is where side mounted seats are much more beneficial.

I sat in a set of the CS and they are very comfortable. It’s a good substitute for the hard core real race seat. I think the big factor is how far to the race side do you want to go. The CS seats still maintain usability and function. You don’t really need the seat reclining features but it’s nice to have. To me I like having a care car that looks like a street car. So that’s my .02

The only reason you get a new seat is so that you can install shoulder harnesses (6-point harness).

Rear cage, seats, harnesses. This is modification #1 for a car that sees any substantial track time.

Just get a Recaro Profi and Schroth harnesses. I have a necksgen device to sell if you want a lower cost neck system (vs. Hans). I am upgrading to Hans in my new car.

Damn it west, you have me looking at the sportsters now.

These look a bit like the oem bucket B7 RS4 seats sold in Europe but weren’t available here. Anyone know if they were available on the rs5 here?

That might apply to you little guys. I can see clear over the top of the seat :slight_smile:

So my guy at Griffin Motorwerke knows the people at the Recaro factory that build one off, limited production seats. This includes the BMW Performance sport buckets, the R8 GT seats, the GT3 sport bucket seats, and the RS5 sport bucket seats (pictured). For independent dealers they only build about 50 seats a year. He’s getting me a quote in Magma Red (matched to VIN). I think it’s going to be $8k for two seats. It’s unclear whether the weak Euro will help at all in this transaction.

Those seats are gorgeous. Please make this happen.