This is the front of the Bell BR-1 helmet. Unfortunately helmet manufacturers do not predrill water-tube access holes like they do for HANS device anchors. It is up to each individual to turn his or her helmet into Swiss cheese.

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.

To keep the water bladder from sliding around the interior while racing, we used the backpack that came with the bladder and zip-tied it to the back of the driver’s seat.
To keep the water bladder from sliding around the interior while racing, we used the backpack that came with the bladder and zip-tied it to the back of the driver’s seat.
We picked up this is simple hydration bladder and drinking tube from Wal-Mart for less than $20. Pour water into the bladder and insert it in the backpack attached to the seat. We will cut this tube and place a quick-connect, no-drip system in the middle of the tube to separate the driver’s helmet from the bladder during pit stops.
We picked up this is simple hydration bladder and drinking tube from Wal-Mart for less than $20. Pour water into the bladder and insert it in the backpack attached to the seat. We will cut this tube and place a quick-connect, no-drip system in the middle of the tube to separate the driver’s helmet from the bladder during pit stops.
I scored these no-drip connectors from I/O Port Racing Supplies, which carries Cool Suit system components. They are important because they keep the contents of the water bag from emptying into the interior when the connectors are detached.
I scored these no-drip connectors from I/O Port Racing Supplies, which carries Cool Suit system components. They are important because they keep the contents of the water bag from emptying into the interior when the connectors are detached.

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.

Bell actually set up the inside of the helmet to allow for a drinking tube to slip in between the two front interior panels (you can see the opening below the Sampson Racing Communications microphone.) This was a nice feature because it kept us from having to sew back together any interior helmet padding. The bite tube just slipped in between the two panels.
Bell actually set up the inside of the helmet to allow for a drinking tube to slip in between the two front interior panels (you can see the opening below the Sampson Racing Communications microphone.) This was a nice feature because it kept us from having to sew back together any interior helmet padding. The bite tube just slipped in between the two panels.

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.

Using a drill bit the same size as the water tube, place some tape on the helmet to protect the finish and then drill right into the front of your expensive helmet.
Using a drill bit the same size as the water tube, place some tape on the helmet to protect the finish and then drill right into the front of your expensive helmet.
With the front interior panels removed, we could see a clear plastic insert. We used a box cutter to cut a larger square hole around where the drill protruded into the interior of the helmet. Testing the helmet we found the drinking tube tended to get caught on this slim piece of plastic. We wanted the water tube to easily slip in and out of the front of the helmet.
With the front interior panels removed, we could see a clear plastic insert. We used a box cutter to cut a larger square hole around where the drill protruded into the interior of the helmet. Testing the helmet we found the drinking tube tended to get caught on this slim piece of plastic. We wanted the water tube to easily slip in and out of the front of the helmet.
Here you can see the final product of the interior of the helmet. The bite valve is positioned just below the microphone at the driver’s mouth, so that any spilled water will not drip into the microphone.
Here you can see the final product of the interior of the helmet. The bite valve is positioned just below the microphone at the driver’s mouth, so that any spilled water will not drip into the microphone.
With the helmet drilled, we threaded the tube through the helmet and then threaded the bite valve onto the end of the tube. When a driver wants a drink, he can reach up and push the tube into the helmet about half an inch to push the bite valve into his mouth.
With the helmet drilled, we threaded the tube through the helmet and then threaded the bite valve onto the end of the tube. When a driver wants a drink, he can reach up and push the tube into the helmet about half an inch to push the bite valve into his mouth.
For endurance racing and quick driver swaps we use Velcro on the end of the water tube to attach it to the top of the helmet (the same way we attach the driver’s radio plug). During a pit stop, the crew can easily find the water tube and connect it to the bladder.
For endurance racing and quick driver swaps we use Velcro on the end of the water tube to attach it to the top of the helmet (the same way we attach the driver’s radio plug). During a pit stop, the crew can easily find the water tube and connect it to the bladder.

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.

Here is the final product, a helmet that allows you to drink water and stay hydrated during a race. This setup can help you stay focused in the car and focus on important things. Like winning!
Here is the final product, a helmet that allows you to drink water and stay hydrated during a race. This setup can help you stay focused in the car and focus on important things. Like winning!

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.

Comments
Image courtesy of Rob Krider