Professional racecar drivers, not only have to figuratively stay cool in high-pressure situations, but they also have to physically stay cool to prevent heat exhaustion on the racetrack. The temperatures measured in race cars can peak at 130 degrees in events such as the Daytona 500 which happens well before the summer heat hits.
How do professional drivers stay cool? In this blog, we’ll take a look at what is used to cool the cars and the drivers.
If you’ve booked with Racing Adventures, the temperatures continue to climb as spring has officially begun! You too can learn tips and tricks that the professionals use to stay cool, and apply them to your race car driving lessons!
Race Car Drivers Get Air!
First things first, race cars don’t come equipped with air-conditioning — seriously — there is no air! The air-conditioning adds unjustifiable weight and slows down racing performance. It’s 130 degrees in the car, so how do they avoid the heat?
Because the car temperatures are inhumanly hot, drivers often have a built-in ventilation system into their protective gear and hoses that blow air on the seat and at their feet. Some racing helmets even have an attachment where the hose can be plugged-in so drivers can receive fresh air! Although these methods help some, they only cool the car temperature down roughly 10 degrees.
Some drivers even have to sport heat and burn-resistant foot shields to keep not only their shoes, but their flesh from melting in these boiling conditions. In this case, it’s more about protection from the heat than staying cool!
Most drivers say the heat is rough and noticeable, but because they’re focusing on racing it helps to distract them from the heat.
Race Car Drivers Have Special Cool Suits
There are a number of cool suits on the market, but they all perform in the same way. Cool shirts and suits have a series of tubing sewn into the material that allows chilled liquid to flow throughout the body to cool it. They’re made from various materials such as cotton or other blends. Race car drivers utilize these cooling suits because it’s the best way to reduce overall body temperature. While the air helps cool the interior of the car, the suits cool the driver. The theory is that by cooling the blood, you cool the entire body. As a result of increased perspiration due to the heat, your blood flow increases to the skin to help with evaporation. Despite the blood working tirelessly to cool the skin, it also has to have enough to operate your brain, vital organs, and muscles to keep you functioning. If at any point your body is past this point, normal activity will begin to shut down.
The cool suits then help to cool the blood, reserving it for vital driving functions and increased reaction time to aid the driver.
The Future of Cooling
Not as widely used is the cooling device of the racing future: the CoreControl system. What this system does is cool your body from the inside out, similar to a car’s radiator! The most innovative part of the CoreControl is it only needs to have contact with the palm of a hand. The palm has designated blood vessels that help cool the body systemically, so it cools the body very quickly. This device is portable, but the best place for a race car driver to cool down is in between the race heats, so it doesn’t travel with them.
How To Stay Cool As a Race Car Novice
Maybe you’re just getting started and taking your first race car driving lessons, so an air system isn’t quite where you’re at. How do you stay cool?
Because the cool suit and CoreControl are quite pricey, most hobby drivers soak a towel in cold water or completely freeze it.
Another thought is to soak a t-shirt when you’re out on the track and keep soaking it during your breaks.
Head and neck bands are also a popular choice because you can pop them in the freezer the night before and use them on your body and even behind you on the seat.
There are many ways a professional race car driver can beat the racing heat: from air flow systems and cool suits to CoreControl cooling. If you’re not a professional racer, smaller and easier methods are available such as soaking towels and t-shirts and wearing frozen head and neck bands.