How Drivers Stay Cool On Hot Days at the Race Track

This weekend, extremely hot temperatures are expected throughout the United States, especially in the eastern half of the country.  While many tracks and series have already canceled their racing programs for this weekend in response to the widespread heat wave, other drivers are making preparations for a scorching weekend at the track.


Several events have already been canceled or postponed for this weekend.  Brewerton Speedway (NY), Bridgeport Speedway (NJ), Delaware International Speedway (DE), Fulton Speedway (NY), Kalamazoo Speedway (MI) and New Egypt Speedway (NJ) are among the tracks who will not be racing this weekend in response to the high temperatures.  The FASTRAK Racing Series has also postponed its “Prelude to the World Championship” at Virginia Motor Speedway (VA).


However, many races are still continuing as planned this weekend.  Competitors in those races are already planning for challenging events given the circumstances.


There’s no doubt the heat can take its toll on a competitor.  Fans were reminded of that Monday night at Anderson Speedway (IN), when Redbud 400 winner Johnny VanDoorn was met in victory lane by CRA Super Series officials and medical personnel to treat him for heat exhaustion after 400 grueling laps around the high-banked quarter-mile.


Matt Wallace will be competing in the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour’s Masters of the Pros 125 at Memphis International Speedway (TN) this weekend.  While Wallace, the son of NASCAR veteran Mike Wallace, is just 23 years old, he has plenty of experience over the course of his career on hot summer days in the south.


Wallace understandably says hydration is important for these events.  However, he adds that it’s not as simple as taking in fluids on race day.


“With the temperature, it’s definitely going to be a hydration game,” said Wallace.  “If you pay attention to the pit area, a lot of younger drivers walk around with sodas.  This weekend will be a reality check.”


Wallace notes that the heat will be a factor for everyone, which makes preparing in the days leading up to Sunday at Memphis.


“It’s just a huge hydration game,” said Wallace.  “The circumstances aren’t going to be good for anybody.  You’ve got be proactive, not just at the track but this week leading up to it.  It’s not something a lot of people pay attention to, but it will be crucial.”


Michael Self will be competing with the ARCA Menards Series at Iowa Speedway (IA) as part of a busy weekend of racing at the 7/8-mile oval.  Along with hydration and nutrition, Self cycles regularly throughout the week to prepare for hot days inside the race car.


“It’s definitely brutal racing in these types of conditions,” said Self.  “You have to hydrate and really focus on nutrition, more so than normal, when you’re looking at heat like this on a race weekend.  I think that’s the best thing you can do short-term to prepare.


“Long term, I think this is where physical conditioning comes in,” added Self.  “I do a lot of road biking and actually go during the heat of the day here in North Carolina a lot so I can best simulate heart rate and conditions in high temperatures, and hopefully be physically prepared to be active in this kind of heat.”


Joey Polewarczyk will race Saturday with the Pro All Stars Series Super Late Models at White Mountain Motorsports Park (NH).  His preparations began on Thursday with bottles of Gatorade and water. Otherwise, “Joey Pole” considers this weekend another day at the office.


“The only thing I do differently is drink more fluids,” said Polewarczyk.  “I started today drinking Gatorade.  I know some guys drink Pedialyte but I can’t stomach it.  I’ll stick to water and Gatorade.”


Polewarczyk said the best way to beat to heat is to have a fast race car.  The less time spent adjusting and tuning in between practice stints, the more time you can spend relaxing in the relative comfort of your trailer.


“You go into it knowing it’s going to be miserable,” said Polewarczyk.  “There’s no way around it.  Hopefully, we prepare better at the shop and get the car as close and perfect as we can.


“Hopefully it’s just fine-tuning adjustments, not throwing a whole toolbox at it,” added Polewarczyk. “That way, we can stay in the trailer, stay cool, and when it’s race-time, I’ll have as much fluid as I can so I can stay cool and calm in the race.”


Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series points leader Jonathan Davenport has had plenty of experience dealing with warm nights.  This weekend, he’ll be at I-80 Speedway (NE) for the Go 50 and the Silver Dollar Nationals.


Davenport has several tools for staying cool on hot summer nights.


“A pallet of water and a five-gallon bucket of Gold Bond,” joked Davenport.  “Just drink fluids steady all day, and maybe a couple Electrolyte popsicles.”


An extra challenge for Davenport is the preparation, maintenance and repairs from racing on consecutive nights, something he and his team will have to factor in to the weekend as well.


“We will try and do most of our maintenance at night,” explained Davenport.  “Try not to unload until later in the day.”


Regardless of where fans will be enjoying racing this weekend, we encourage everyone to stay safe and hydrated at the race track.


-Story by: Zach Evans, Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans

-Photo credit: photo



How Drivers Stay Cool On Hot Days at the Race Track