In the world of sports and athletes it’s a given that football, basketball, baseball, and hockey players need to be in top physical condition to compete at the top of their field without injury. Race car drivers, however, are not often thought of as athletes requiring physical conditioning and training. After all, how much does it take to drive a car around in circles for hours on end?
On the contrary, recent studies have shown that race car drivers are just as much athletes needing to be physically fit as those that play traditional sports.
To test the strain that racing puts on drivers, devices were used to monitor their heart rates. The results showed that during the race their BPM was nearing 200, resting BPM is approximately 76. For the average person that BPM would result in a heart attack; however a well-toned athlete is able to sustain this.
While many Americans drive cars every day they aren’t typically driving at speeds of over 200 mph for hours at a time. The physical and mental stress that drivers experience requires them to be in both mental and physical shape. Endurance and muscle training allows them to be in ideal physical shape to drive for hours on end. Also as a result of the high speeds race car drivers experience as they take turns they experience more G-forces, the force of gravity that is felt as weight, than the average person and, like fighter pilots, they must train their bodies to be able to handle the additional pressure.
Physical training is vital; however so is mental. Being able to handle the mental stress of driving a 3500 lbs automobile at speed greater than 200 mph for several hours as a solo driver would be challenging enough. Most drivers are doing this surrounded by dozens of other drivers doing the same thing with sometimes no more than a few inches between the vehicles. Maintaining control so as not to cause harm to themselves or the other drivers around them requires an inordinate amount of mental control and training.
Race car driving is not just an afternoon driving in circles in an advertisement decorated car, it’s a testament the immense physical and mental training that drivers go through to be able to complete such a strenuous task safely.