A floor mat can serve as a defense against heat entering from beneath the car. Floor mats
Some teams have sprayed traction materials onto the floor to help prevent the driver's feet from slipping. These materials, similar to truck bedliner materials, can act like hot sugar or hot cheese in that they hold heat as opposed to insulating. It's important to be careful when selecting materials for the inside of the car. A material may work well for a specific task, but may hinder in another area.
One option for direct floor applications is a product like Nomex board. This material is a thin, hard Nomex laminate that provides excellent thermal shielding in short-race and lower-heat areas.
Level 5: Air Gap Insulating
We've talked about the physical means of shielding heat, but you can use air as an insulator. There are two main ways to accomplish this. The first is by building a false floor. This is a fabricated piece that raises the driver's feet from the actual steel floor by 11/42 to 4 inches, depending on the car's configuration and the size of the driver. This gap area does not have any insulation. The air in the gap will effectively slow the flow of heat. Some teams have even added a hose to direct a current of air into and out of this air gap and further help to slow the heat transfer.
Crewmembers may have to crawl under a hot race car to do work. Many teams have large fans,
The second way to use an air gap to insulate a driver is through the use of insulating items that contain a partial vacuum. One of the more popular options is the composite honeycomb board. The outer surface can be made out of the carbon, Kevlar, or other composite materials. The inner core of the board is a honeycomb cell structure that is 11/44 to 31/44 inch thick. Most composite shops can make a board of this type; however, the key to the insulating nature of this board is that it's assembled under a partial vacuum. This processing method leaves a partial vacuum in the honeycomb cells. It is this vacuum, combined with the insulating nature of the carbon or Kevlar, that provides the thermal barrier. It is more difficult for a composite shop to set up and manufacture under a vacuum, so there are only a few shops and retailers that offer this type of board.
Level 6: Floor Mats and Component Shielding
In addition to air gap insulating, which can be expensive or difficult with space limitations, the next layer of protection is a physical layer of insulation directly below the driver's feet. This layer of the insulation has more requirements because of where it's placed in the vehicle. First, this layer will be closest to the driver and must act as a final line of defense. Secondly, the driver's feet are rubbing on it, so the top material must be able to take more physical abuse than other insulation. Next, the floor mats have to fit in and cover complex floor- and transmission-tunnel configurations. Finally, it is the most popular piece of insulation shielding and may be installed when all other levels have been neglected. As a result, it must take up the workload of other items not installed.
Most floor mats use a coated fiberglass top material to provide an abrasion-resistant surface. Most often this coating is a silicone in black or iron-oxide color. The fiberglass or ceramic insulation will be under the top material. The insulation will be as thin as 11/44 inch to as thick as 1 inch, depending on the application and how effective the rest of the insulating system is designed. Special stitching techniques and patterns are used to slow the migration (or bunching up) of the insulation from the driver's feet rubbing against the top material. The bottom material consists of a vapor barrier that is often a reflective material. The vapor barrier is installed so the insulation stays dry. The reflective material is not as effective as when used in other applications because it lays directly on the floor or other insulating materials, but it completes the package and provides a good look to the mat.