Nascar has crowds of endearing fans, each with their favorite drivers, racecourses, and like me, friends with whom they like to watch Nascar! The races are undeniably entertaining, but how much do you know of the drivers’ challenges? While watching Nascar, we love a cold beverage, but do Nascar drivers drink during a race?
NASCAR drivers can drink liquids during races, to prevent dehydration, cramps and loss of concentration. Drivers may prefer to take a water bottle or have a pipe connected from a liquid supply to their helmet, directly supplying water when needed. Pit crews also provide cups of ice-cold water during pit stops.
The scorching temperatures inside a Nascar vehicle demand that drivers stay hydrated throughout their races. I guarantee that exploring the mental and physical warfare drivers wage to win and entertain their fans will give you a newfound appreciation of just how difficult it can be to complete, never mind compete in a 500 mile NASCAR race.
Do Nascar Drivers Drink During A Race?
Nascar is the kind of sport that undoubtedly gets the blood pumping, both for the spectators and racers. However, unlike the spectators, the racers are exposed to dangerously high temperatures inside their vehicles. In fact, average temperatures can range anywhere between 120°F to 160°F – that’s hot enough to fry an egg in only 4 minutes!
As such, some pit crews hand their drivers a cup of ice water during a pit stop to freshen them up and help them cool off. Some drivers keep water bottles in their cars, practicing the fine art of driving while drinking. Other racers have systems inside their vehicles that directly run liquids through a straw or pipe into their helmets.
Without enough liquids, racers run a high risk of losing too much water and suffering from mid-race dehydration; they can quickly lose eight to ten pounds of water racing. Consequently, they may become too ill to continue racing, or they can request assistance from on-scene medical professionals who are always standing by in case of an emergency. THough no one is delivering a steak to the drivers, at least not ill the end of the race, it is also possible to have food or energy pastes given to the driver as well. We explore this in more detail here.
It’s not uncommon for racers to receive IV fluids after races or head to the hospital due to lightheadedness. Tony Stewart did this on the plane between the Indy 500 and the Coca Cola 600 when he completed the Double Duty in 2001.
Nascar vehicles boast extreme temperatures because there is no insulation between the engine and the cockpit. On top of that, for safety reasons, drivers must wear full-body double-layer Noxex fire suits in case of unforeseen fire hazards that may cause fatal injury.
As you may have surmised, these suits are completely fire-resistant but increase body heat. Add to that fireproof underwear, and the jokes about hot stuff etc, and you can imagine the heat
Driving a vehicle at 200 miles per hour demands considerable focus and concentration. With the drivers inching from each other and the walls of the racecourse, two to three hours of intensive focus can quickly deplete their mental and physical energy. Furthermore, staying hydrated is crucial for racers to maintain a healthy and stable state of mind and concentration levels.
How Hot Does The Interior Of A Nascar Get?
Since a Nascar vehicle’s engine and cockpit section is so close together and without insulation, interior temperatures are generally 30°F to 40°F hotter than the outside ambient temperature. In other words, if it is a hot °90F on a beautiful sunny day, you can expect the car’s interior temperature to climb up to or more than a scorching 130°F.
That said, drivers do have access to a bit of fresh air that will come in from outside the race car. However, it is filtered with carbon monoxide filters, burning rubber smells and and doesn’t carry the same effect as regular air.
It’s also worth noting that Nascar races can typically easily last for more than three hours, so drivers constantly expose themselves to extreme heat for extended periods. For this critical reason, they stay hydrated or become seriously ill and even pass out.
Some racers report losing five to seven pounds of water weight from perspiration every weekend. Others report experiencing severe dehydration and cramping during a race. If it becomes too much, drivers can choose to stop racing and get checked out at the health center located in the center of the track. However, not many do as your race is effectively over.
Even though drivers drink a good amount of water to stay hydrated, they are not permitted to get out of their vehicles until the checkered flag raises to the cheers of an excited crowd.
Surprisingly, racers do not have the urge to use the restroom during their races because perspiration causes their bodies to rapidly lose large volumes of water. If they do need to go, well they go of course! You can read more about that below.
How Do Nascar Drivers Stay Cool?
In truth, there is no one answer to how drivers stay cool; there are a couple of methods drivers employ. Firstly, drivers may prefer to fight off the heat by ensuring good health and staying hydrated throughout their races. They often refer to their routines as ‘hydration programs,’ which they highly regard to improve their driving performance.
Radiation heat comes primarily from the sun’s UV rays, as well as a hot engine, exhaust pipe, and oil lines. Most Nascar vehicles implement thermal shielding and insulating materials and foil to reflect the heat to battle the effects. Additionally, these materials also exist on the floorboards and by the driver heel protection area.
Convection cooling refers to replacing warm fluids or air with cooler counterparts; a fan serves this purpose. Furthermore, some racers may prefer NACA duct systems attached to their helmets. They utilize ice-packed coolers to create cold air, which is sent directly into the helmet. Some systems even include dust filters and carbon monoxide (CO) functionality.
That being said, the system is not infallible, and eventually, the ice will melt. Consequently, it only keeps drivers cool for the first few minutes of the race. Unfortunately, these kinds of systems are not serviceable, even during a pitstop, so the driver needs to manage for the rest of the race.
As the last and least expensive alternative, drivers may opt to put bags of ice in their firesuit. Ice bags are readily available, although unsurprisingly, the extreme heat causes the ice to melt, so it can quickly become messy.
Nascar drivers stay cool and hydrated when the temperature rises by drinking water throughout the race via their water systems. THat might be as simple as a bottle of cold water passed in during a pit stop, or as advanced as cooling liquid systems piped into the car as needed. THey can even hand over iced water to the driver.
The fact remains NASCAR is a hot sport and the risks involved of dehydration is multiplied while these racers are driving for these long periods of time.