Competitive Driving and Health



by Charles Davis

[This article was inspired by a similar article by Paul Racine in the July 1998 Slipstream]

The mental and physical demands of competitive driving can be very stressful, especially during the summer...and especially in TX! It gets really hot during July and August...but you knew that. Even without heat and humidity, competition increases our adrenaline flow. But when it's hot,  our bodies can be taxed close to their limits. Put  on long clothes (some even wear Nomex driving suits!), add a full coverage helmet, close your car windows, and it's a recipe for disaster.

As your body absorbs the heat and stress of dealing with the event organizers and your other competitors (buddies?), your performance at any task will be impaired. When this impairment affects driving, it's time to be cautious. There are well documented cases of drivers getting so hot and dehydrated that they pass out! Guard rails don't treat cars or drivers nicely.

At the MineralRing, there are few hard objects, like guard rails, to hit. Actually, guard rails are your friends...it's better to hit a guard rail at a shallow angle than something else head on! So even without guard rails, bad things can happen when you pass out. The car can drive off the pavement, where there are fences and uneven terrain. Plus, on the West side, there are buildings and cars parked. And there are workers and spectators who can be hurt! A car without a driver does random damage to things...hard to predict what will happen...easy to predict it won't be good! With 35 acres of pavement (like the MineralRing has), it's easy for a car to accelerate and reach high speeds before it hits something.

With knowledge of and by following some common-sense rules, you can avoid this:

  • Get as much rest as possible before the event
  • Keep in shape...get some exercise every day
  • Don't get excited...stay calm
  • If you feel uncomfortable, light-headed, and/or nauseated while driving, STOP
  • Drink lots of water...avoid drinks with caffeine and alcohol, they are diuretics
  • Take a sip of water often...like, you know, between runs
  • Maintain your energy level with snacks of fruit
  • Be sure to eat breakfast and lunch!
  • Even when off-track, limit the alcohol

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