Been NASTAR and beer league racing pretty regularly for about 6 years now. Not really a newbie, but still strongly amatuer at this. Picked up a GS race suit off the clearance rack a few years ago which has a fair amount of padding in it. Obviously (I think), I wear a helmet when racing. Took a gate pole across the face a few years back so I added a chin bar to the helmet. Have some gloves with some built-in armour. My occassional coach wants me to start getting closer to the gates, maybe even hit a few now and then (radical concept to me, but WTH). So beyond those basics, what other protections do my fellow racing bears consider necessary?
Also, out of curiousity, what is the point with wearing a spine protector? Is it there in case of a fall? Heard someone say it's for Slalom racing and it keeps the poles from hitting you in the back. How do you get hit in the back when racing?