The Best Ear Protection for IndyCar Races

IndyCar races are thrilling and loud, just like their NASCAR counterparts. The roar of an IndyCar engine is beloved by fans worldwide, but can it be harmful to our hearing? According to the CDC, it indeed can. So, what’s the best ear protection for IndyCar races?

The best ear protection for IndyCar races:

  1. 3M WorkTunes Connect Hearing Protector – Most Popular
  2. PROHEAR 033 Upgraded Bluetooth Protection Headphones – Quality Sound
  3. Honeywell Ademco Howard Leight Sync Digital Radio Earmuff – Affordable Scanner
  4. Mack’s Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs – Most Affordable
  5. NASCAR Ear Protectors & Headphones 2-In-1 – Kids’ Favorite
  6. Decibel Defense Professional Safety Ear Muffs – Best Protection
  7. G & F Earmuffs Hearing Protection – 4.5 Stars Out Of 5

Hearing damage can alter the way you live your life, and it’s best always to protect your ears and hearing wherever possible. Even if you can stand the noise coming at you, it doesn’t mean that it’s not damaging your hearing. Ear protection is vital at an IndyCar race and even more so if you are close to the track.

How Loud is an IndyCar Race?

IndyCar racing, known for its high-speed contests on both oval tracks and street circuits, is not just a visual spectacle but an aural experience as well. But exactly how loud is an IndyCar race?

Decibel Levels:

To understand the noise, we first need to contextualize it. A typical conversation usually hovers around 60 decibels (dB). A lawn mower or a vacuum might produce about 80 to 85 dB. Prolonged exposure to sounds at or above 85 dB can potentially harm hearing over time.

In comparison, IndyCar races can generate noise levels ranging from 90 dB to 130 dB. Several factors can influence this range:

  1. Proximity to the Track: Being closer to the race cars, especially near the start/finish line or pit lane, can expose spectators to the higher end of this range.
  2. Number of Cars: A full field of cars roaring past, such as during the start or after a caution period, can be louder than isolated cars spread out over a race distance.
  3. Track Type: Street circuits, with their natural echo from surrounding buildings, might amplify the sound more than open oval tracks.
  4. Car Design & Engine Type: IndyCars, with their open-wheel design and turbocharged V6 engines, have a distinctive sound profile different from other racing categories.

Effects on the Human Ear:

Prolonged exposure to the noise of an IndyCar race without proper ear protection can result in tinnitus (a ringing in the ears) or even permanent hearing loss. It’s especially potent when the exposure is repetitive, like attending multiple races over a season or years without protection.

Noise Exposure Standards: NIOSH vs. OSHA

NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) The NIOSH standards are more conservative and are based on the idea that individuals should not be exposed to average noise levels above 85 dB over an 8-hour period without hearing protection.

The key principle guiding these recommendations is the 3-dB exchange rate, meaning for every 3 dB increase in noise, the allowable exposure time is halved.

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) OSHA standards, on the other hand, permit exposures to 90 dB for up to 8 hours. They utilize a 5-dB exchange rate, so for every 5 dB increase in noise, the permissible exposure duration is cut in half.

best ear protectors for nascar

The Best Ear Protection For IndyCar Races

According to the CDC, noise above the 70 dB mark may start to damage your hearing over a prolonged period of exposure, where noise higher than 120 dB can immediately cause harm to your hearing.

Let’s put this in perspective:

  • A gas-powered lawnmower, leaf blower, and chainsaw create an intense sound at 80-85 dB – Possible damage to hearing after exposing your ears for more than two hours.
  • Firecrackers have an intense sound that ranges between 140-150 dB, which can cause immediate pain and ear injury depending on how close you are to the fireworks.

OHSA sets the legal noise exposure limits in the workplace, and its permissible exposure limit (PEL) is set at 90 dB for all workers who work an 8-hour shift. Should the noise level increase to 95 dB, the exposure limit halves to 4-hours.

And to 2-hours should the noise level increase to 100 dB – The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) demands that exposure at this level should be less than 15 minutes a day.

The noise level at a IndyCar race ranges between 100 dB (normal racing conditions) to 130 dB when the race cars pits. Ear protection seems to be the safe option when attending a IndyCar race. You can read more about the noise levels at IndyCar here.

Ear protection comes in the following forms:

  • Ear Plugs
  • Earmuffs
  • Hearing Protectors

The most important job of any ear protector is to lower the noise dB, keeping your ears safe from any possible noise damage.

ear protection for nascar

The Best Ear Protection For Adults Attending A IndyCar Race

Here are some of the best ear protectors that you can use when attending a loud IndyCar race:

1.    3M WorkTunes Connect Hearing Protector – Most Popular

The 3M WorkTunes Connect is a product worn by many a IndyCar racing fan; some even claim that this hearing protector works best with racing scanners. Fitted with Bluetooth wireless technology that allows you to stream effortlessly from your mobile phone or other connected devices.

Another great feature is the Volume Control Technology, which keeps you listening at a moderate and safe noise level. The 3M WorkTunes Connect is also fitted with a built-in microphone for incoming calls and hi-fi speakers with extra bass.

The super-comfortable soft ear pads make them a joy to wear for long periods, and the headset controls are easy to access and user-friendly. The Audio Assist functionality helps you set up your favorite radio stations/channels via voice command without having to remove your headphones.

NRR Rating: 24 dB

2.    PROHEAR 033 Upgraded Bluetooth Protection Headphones – Quality Sound

The PROHEAR 033 is a protective headphone set fitted with upgraded 5.0 Bluetooth technology that provides a stable and quick Bluetooth connection. The Hi-Fi speakers do not take away from the hearing protection provided by the headphones; it enhances the listening experience instead.

The high sensitivity reception antenna provides a clear reception, and you can use manual or automatic modes to search for radio stations. A bonus is that you can save 10 AM, and 10 FM stations as presets. The LCD will help you find the IndyCar race broadcast in no time.

The custom earpads are soft and comfortable on the ears, so is the adjustable padded headband. With a built-in 2000mAh rechargeable battery, you won’t worry about your battery dying mid-race. Expect 48-hours when used in Bluetooth mode and 40-hours of playtime in AM/FM setting.

NRR Rating: 25 dB

3.    Honeywell Ademco Howard Leight Sync Digital Radio Earmuff – Affordable Scanner

Howard Leith is a well-known hearing protection manufacturer, and this set of muffs is made for the racetrack. The Honeywell Ademco Howard Leight Sync Digital Radio Earmuff will protect your ears, while you can use the AM/FM radio to tune into the live race broadcast.

The earmuff turns into a scanner headset when used with the AUX input jack, the cable is included, and the sound quality of the scanner is very clear.

The headset has a battery life of over 100 hours, and you can preset 10 of your favorite radio stations via the integrated LCD screen.

NRR Rating: 25 dB

4.    Mack’s Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs – Most Affordable

Mack’s Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs is the number one brand that doctors recommend you use if your better half has a snoring problem. It’s made with Comfy Cush Comfort Foam. Unlike other earplug brands, Mack’s Earplugs don’t bleed out colors with perspiration.

Mack’s Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs foam is made of quality material that’s consistent and reliable. Silicon plugs tend to get a bit gooey in the heat, whereas soft foam doesn’t suffer the same fate.

The product is very affordable and perfect for protecting the whole family for a couple of races, as it comes in a 50-pair jar.

NRR Rating: 32 dB

Nascar ear protection

The Best Ear Protection For Kids Attending An IndyCar Race

Protecting your kids’ ears when taking them to a fun day at the races should be high on your priority list and we take a set from the other great racing series in the USA – NASCAR

5.    NASCAR Ear Protectors & Headphones 2 in 1 – Kids’ Favourite

The iclever Ear Protectors & Headphones is a 2 in 1 product. It blocks out loud environments and can also be used to connect to any audio device via a detachable audio cable.

Comes standard with an adjustable volume limiter to protect the little one’s ears further. The pivoting ear cushions and adjustable headband provide kids with a custom and comfortable fit.

NRR Rating: 21 dB

6.    Decibel Defense Professional Safety Ear Muffs – Best Protection

Decibel Defense Ear Muffs are perfect for the race track. These muffs feature a comfortable headband with padded cell designs that provide hours of wearing comfort. This product is recommended for children aged 4 and up.

Adults can also use the product as it’s perfect to use at shooting ranges, concerts, firework displays, power tools, and mowing the lawn.

NRR Rating: 37 dB

7.    G & F Earmuffs Hearing Protection – 4.5 Out Of 5 Stars

The G & F Earmuffs are ideal for protecting your kids ‘ears on race day. It’s made of 100% cut-resistant fiber and very comfortable to carry around due to its foldable design. The adjustable headband makes it suitable for adults and kids.

Customer ratings on Amazon are a respectable 4.5 out of 5 stars.

NRR Rating: 26 dB up to 125 dB

The Best Place To Sit If You Have Sensitive Hearing


The best place to sit would be on the upper seating level, from row 20 upwards. The higher you sit, the softer the sound of the cars, and you will get a better view of the race. Don’t sit anywhere near the pits, as this is where the highest dB sound originates from.

The cons of sitting so high are that you are far away from the action.


It does not matter what type of ear protection you take to a IndyCar race, as long as it brings down the overall dB levels during the race. The higher the NRR Rating, the better.

It’s always a more exciting experience to listen to the race on a live radio broadcast, even more so on a race scanner. The aim is to protect your hearing, so the race will still be exciting even if you only have earplugs.

For kids, it’s best to forget the add-ons and focus on eliminating the sound as much as possible; they will enjoy it in any case.



Al lifelong Motor Racing Fan, with a particular love of NASCAR and IndyCar racing. Been in and out of cars of varying speeds since i was a child and sharing what i have learnt here.

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