In this article, we take a look at the fitness and nutritional aspects of Motorsport and why these heavily affect on and off track performance but are often overlooked. The aspects covered can be applied to any form of Motorsport and are useful for all round fitness even if you are not currently racing.
Once again, this may be the easiest performance gain you can find without spending huge amounts of money and so should never be underestimated.
Fitness is now such a big part of sport these days, and this shouldn’t be any different in Motorsport. With F1 drivers being some of the finest atheletes on the planet and with speed and certain aspects of car and kart racing becoming more and more physical, it is a part of our sport that you simply cannot ignore anymore.
Gone are the days of Nigel Mansell collapsing pushing his car accross the finish line, and Nelson Piquet not managing to make his way onto the podium in 1982 through dehydration. These days the majority of F1, CART, Rally etc drivers have resting heart rates similar to a Tour De France rider, neck muscles that a gorilla would be proud of and reaction speeds that would put a swordfish to shame.
Kart drivers should be most interested in building up those neck muscles and aerobic fitness. With the sticky tyres being used in many classes of karting and long (relatively) races at top levels, it is difficult to keep your head from becoming part of your shoulder if you do not have strong neck muscles. There is a range of exercises to help you strengthen the neck, some slightly more quirky than others! One that anyone can do is to hang some weights off of your helmet and simply sit watching TV whilst leaning your head over to the left and right for a minute each time. This will often produce some mocking from family and friends and often the gain in neck strength has to be offset with the loss in dignity.
If helmets and weights aren’t your thing, then simply stand staring at a wall and bring your hand up to your forehead. Then start applying pressure to your head, forming resistance and do several repetitions of 2 minute sets every night. Aerobic fitness wise, there simply isn’t any better way to build your aerobic fitness than swimming or cycling or other similar activities. Swimming is fantastic as the water is a natural resistance and your whole body is used in some way shape or form. Cycling is also handy if you cannot afford a gym membership or if you find running intolerable (we know the feeling). These exercies can also be applied to car racing and doing them all regularly over the winter months will almost certainly make you feel more energized and happier come the first race of 2017.
There is one final aspect that people in racing forget about the most. Both the lead up and during a race weekend, you should be fueling your body as best you can. Each day you should be drinking at-least 5-6 litres of fluid, and we don’t mean Red Bull or Lucozade (both of which can over saturate the bodies glucose levels) but plain old water. At a long shot this water should contain some micro-nutrients such as Calcium but plain water will do the job. Caffeine can be used to aid concentration and reaction times but large doses can raise blood pressure and heart rate.
During the race weekend, have a breakfast such as porridge which will give you lots of slow release energy due to its complex carbohydrates. Combine this with some fruit to keep vitamin levels up and your onto a winning formula.
Lunch should consist of something with more protein such as pasta or eggs that will contain amino acids that which help the body recover from exercise.
Finally dinner will probably boil down to how well your racing went. Popular choices are McDonald’s if it didn’t go so well and high quality meats such as lean cut beef or fish (which aid re fueling the body) if you happened to be victorious!
Author: Clerk of the Course
The Clerk of Junior Torque. Administrator, Editor and Dictator!