Racecar interiors get hot, wicked hot. Drivers are adorned with multiple layers of Nomex, gloves, helmets and leather, which is all designed to keep fire out, but also keeps the heat in. Keeping a driver cool during a long, hot race isn’t easy. We are going to show you an inexpensive system to keep a driver hydrated during a race. Because a well-hydrated driver can focus better and ultimately drive faster.
The do-it-yourself system starts at Wal-Mart, where you can pick up a generic Camelbak-style bladder, drinking tube and backpack for around $20. One of the reasons I actually prefer the Wal-Mart version of the water bladder and drinking tube is that the bite valve has a threaded attachment. Some Camelbak systems only have friction-fit bite valves, which come off easily and make a mess. A racecar at speed is no place for a problem like this.
Once you have your water bladder and backpack, simply tie-wrap the backpack to the rear of the driver seat and route the drinking tube over the shoulder of the driver. A driver can reach up, grab the drinking tube and slip it underneath his or her helmet to get a quick drink of water. Project finished … maybe.
If you want the driver hydration system to be a little slicker and set up so the driver doesn’t have to fiddle around with the drinking tube while trail-braking into Turn 2 at 110 mph, we have another solution for you. Get your drill out. We are going to punch a hole into the front of your expensive helmet. This may seem daunting at first, but once you have the system set up, you’ll wish you had done it years before. This is the same kind of setup you see LeMans drivers using at the Circuit de la Sarthe.
Drill a hole into the front of your helmet at the same elevation as your mouth. Route the drinking tube into the helmet and thread the bite valve onto the end of the water tube. This will permanently mate your water bladder with your helmet, which is not really what you’re looking for. By purchasing a no-spill, quick-connector setup from a Cool Suit system, you can cut the tube, put one side of the quick connect on your helmet and the other side of the quick connect on the water bladder. This way, you can do pit stops and easily disconnect yourself from the water bladder, which is stuffed into the backpack behind your seat. This is also important for escaping from the car in an emergency. Practice getting out of your car, especially after adding another device that connects you to the car.
Once you have your driver hydration system in place, you will be surprised how much easier it is to drive, even during short sprint races. For fluids, some drivers use a 50/50 mixture of water and Gatorade. I have found that anything other than water just makes life sticky and messy. I prefer to use electrolyte pill supplements from GNC before I get in the car and put only cool water in the bladder while I am driving. A frozen Blue Ice block stuffed into the backpack keeps the water bladder nice and cool during a hot day.
It is an easy and inexpensive system that can really make a difference regardless of the climate where you race. The only drawback to the whole driver hydration project is what goes into your body must come out. On a long endurance race, your co-driver may find himself sliding into a damp seat. Don’t stay thirsty, my friends.