Sprint car drivers in NASCAR events need plenty of nutrition and fluids to last through more than four hours in a hot race car. Think of the times you do a road trip and the number of times you get out to get a drink, grab a bite to eat or go to the toilet.
Well add to that the stress and physical effort of driving at 200 miles per house with cars just inches away from you. You might need a little refreshment along the way. So do NASCAR drivers eat during a race, or take nutrition other ways?
NASCAR Drivers do eat during a race, although hydration is more common. Some have hydration systems fitted into the car, others have water bottles, energy bars or energy pastes passed to them during pitstops. NASCAR racing is intensely physical, and minerals and salts may need to replaced urgently during the race.
Some drivers keep water bottles in their cars during a race. Others have a system that runs through a straw and into their helmet. Denny Hamlin will have some energy chews stashed inside his car. … Truex tries to eat a granola or protein bar during the race.
For example, Carl Edwards always had a snack box to refuel for the grueling race track and a can of fresh water, and Carl is by no means alone. other drivers have nutrition during a race, all done safety and within the rules but just like Formula one driving a car this close to the edge, metaphorically and in some cases literally is an intense and physically draining challenge.
The short answer to this question is yes NASCAR drivers do eat during a race. this doesn’t mean there are menus, and tables set up in the pitlane. But high energy foods to give boosts and can help concentration are a part of many drivers race kits.
NASCAR racing is an event characterized by huge amounts of pressure and concentration, and all this can cause the drivers to feel hungry – who wouldn’t? There is not a requirement for NASCAR drivers to eat and some choose not to eat at all. Nothing wrong with that. it comes down to the need of individual drivers.
While some NASCAR drivers eat something light, such as a banana, before getting into the car, this is usually not enough. NASCAR drivers burn through mountains of calories during the race, and they must replace this in some way,
When the driver is under so much stress, eating in the middle of the race is risky. But simple snacks, such as energy chews or a protein-rich bar, come in handy. It is usually a protein bar or granola tucked under the head sock or glove bar, or even a sandwich passed through the window at pit stops.
Whatever the choice, it has to be something that will not cause a sudden discomfort and urgency to run to the toilet and obviously when NASCAR drivers eat it has to be quick. No sloppy joes or steak dinners till after the race!!
How Do NASCAR Drivers Eat During the Race?
Travelling at over 200 miles an hour begs the question how do they sneak the snack bars into their mouth at such neck-breaking speeds?
- Typically, it takes good multitasking skills and a few stages.
- Food can be passed through the windows during stops
- Firstly One hand can reach for the snack
- Wait for a straight and either put the knee on the wheel or
- tear the wrapping, if the team has thought ahead the snacks will be unwrapped of course.
- Then take a big bite.
- All this has to be done in a few seconds before turning is required again.
What Type of Food Do NASCAR Drivers eat During the Race?
Common in-race food for drivers such as Jeff Edwards includes energy paste mixed in water, which runners and cyclists also take. These, although flavoured are not something you would order at a restaurant or from the snack cart. However for the purposes of high energy, fast activities they get the body energy quickly and are easy, and very importantly,, quick to consume.
Jimmy Johnson swears by gatorade and has a hydration system set up in the car ready. it even keeps it cool. When driving in a NASCAR that can hit 140 degrees in temperature that has to be a welcome relief. He also admits to having a sandwich passed to him on occasion, i can only imagine it wasn’t a full footlong philly steak sub though.
If you want to try some of those Energy pastes in case you get tired on your morning commute you can check them out here 😉 If you want a sandwich, well I’m fairly sure you know a place 😛
Why Are Peanuts Considered Bad Luck In NASCAR Races?
Have you ever wondered why you don’t see any peanut vendors at racing events? Well, there’s a good explanation, and it has to do with superstition. Yes, Nascar drivers, like so many sports people, have their superstitious. One thing you will not find a NASCAR driver eating is peanuts!
No doubt peanuts are a handy source of protein and fat but are forbidden on the race track, especially when still in their shells. Race car drivers, especially NASCAR drivers, believe peanuts are an unlucky charm in their sport. This is after peanut shells were found close to a couple of Nascar mishaps in the past.
The Peanut Racing Crashes of 1937!
Even before NASCAR was officially formed racing was going on all over the world. In 1937 there were two fatal crashes that legend has it involved peanuts The first happened in Pennsylvania at the Langhorne Speedway. A number of racegoers were killed and, not really surprising, there were peanut shells all over this site of the crash. Shelled peanuts were very common snack at the time for racegoers.
The Second crash of 1937 didn’t involve spectators but did result in the death of a driver. There was a multi car crash on the track, and there were peanut shells again at the scene.
During a race, NASCAR race cars become so hot that drivers can lose up to 12 pounds of fluid during a competition. Some become lightheaded and faint during or after a race if they hadn’t taken adequate fluids. If during you can imagine how dangerous this is when driving at 200 mph with 40 other cars and not being able to focus.
To avoid these adverse effects, NASCAR drivers prepare for the race by hydrating sufficiently, several days before the event, and on the day, to replace what is lost. Some have water bottles, while others will have a hydration system hooked to their helmet, or even as part of the car.
We have a full article on the ways, and type of liquids that drivers can drink during a race and why it is important here and below.
But what about alcohol?
Nascar’s history is steeped in prohibition bootlegging when souped-up cars were used to outrun the feds. Regardless of the glorious and shared past, alcohol is a no-go zone before and during a race, for fairly obvious reasons!
The fluids are mostly water, or some specially formulated drink, with electrolytes, but never alcohol. The idea is to keep hydrated throughout the race, and alcohol has the opposite effect. Besides, tipsy is not something you want at 55 mph never mind 200 mph.
Drivers such as Bubba and Kurt have appeared with a can of energy drink before and after the race. But it’s usually water in the Redbull or Monster cans. Like alcohol, tons of sugar and caffeine is never what you want in the body to keep hydrated. The are isotope and energy delivery drinks that will replace salts and minerals during a race. The issue is not that drivers are sleepy, its that they are losing minerals and liquids at a huge speed and need those replace to function at their best performance.
A can of Gatorade or BodyArmor mid-race or after the race is usually water inside, of course distinguished with some mark at the bottom or elsewhere.
Nascar drivers also take salt tablets before the race to try to prevent bathroom breaks. Although sometimes the inevitable happens and we will have a longer article on that soon.
Some drivers will take water bottles into their cars and spray water into their helmets to quench their thirst. Other NASCAR drivers take the innovation route and have a straw system in their helmet for fluids, and they only need to press a button on the steering wheel, and fluids flow into their mouth.
Gatorade’s hydration system keeps fluids chilled for drivers as mentioned by Jimmy Johnson above.
After the race, a glass of buttermilk is the traditional drink taken by Indy 500 winners. This tradition was started in 1936 by Louis Meyer, who always took the drink to refresh himself on a hot day and after an Indy 500 win.
NASCAR drivers can lose up to 12 pounds of fluids during a race. Most motorsports are intensely physical activities requiring high levels of fitness. Losing so much fluid during a race can affect concentration, reflex, and alertness. For this reason, hydration systems have become part of the NASCAR race preparation.
However some drivers manage without taking liquid nutrition. The adrenaline, stress, and the high intensity experienced by drivers means they don’t feel hungry or thirsty. Indeed, not taking anything before or during the race avoids risks such as the dreaded gut bombs and bathroom breaks. But it also makes the drivers lose weight.
Generally, race cars are scorching tin vessels, especially with the fact that cockpits are not insulated from engines and can get as high as 140 degrees. Drivers wear Nomex fire suits that add to the heat and stress to make matters worse. Not properly planned for can result in extreme dehydration, passing out and even a rush to the hospitals to be hooked on IV fluids.
NASCAR Drivers certainly can and many do eat during a race. How they do this can vary depending on the preferences of the team and the driers. While some NASCAR drivers eat, others have hydration and liquids to help get through the intense pressure of a race.
Just one thing, don’t offer them any peanuts!