We race during the summer, which means it is H-O-T, hot! Regardless of your political feelings about climate change, you can’t ignore 100-degree temperatures. When you are sitting in a paddock and sweating between track sessions you need to find a way to cool your core temperature. The last thing any of us needs at the track is a driver overwhelmed by heat behind the wheel. We all need to do our part to stay cool, physically and mentally.

If you are lucky enough to live the good life and have lots of paddock resources, good for you! Have the butler turn on the AC unit to pre-cool the RV while you are in your Ferrari on track. For those of us who don’t have all of these fancy resources in the paddock we have to find alternative ways to cool off.

I have pushed myself to the limits in the past while at the track. Not enough water, not enough shade, not enough rest, not enough sense to cool myself down. This is a recipe for disaster, one that will ruin your race weekend quickly. The trick is to listen to your body and find shelter. Shelter isn’t always available at every racing venue. I’ve lived the high life and enjoyed shade in first class garages at Miller Motorsports Park and the Circuit of the Americas. And I’ve lived the tough lessons at places like Willow Springs — a racetrack in the SoCal desert that doesn’t have a shade tree for a hundred miles in any direction.

This is reality for most racers. All of your money was spent on the track car. For a chair you have a stack of tires. For shelter you have a Walmart canopy, which will be destroyed when the first 5 mph gust of wind strikes the paddock. Getting away from the heat is a challenge. But it is a challenge that must be faced.

As summer approached this year and I was looking at my busy motorsports calendar I realized I needed to step up my game in the “beat the heat” category. I had the normal stuff, chairs, canopies, big coolers for ice and water (and … beer). But I really didn’t have a way to cool myself down between on-track sessions. Then I saw a little contraption at the hardware store: a portable battery powered misting fan that sat on a 5-gallon bucket. Genius.

If you don’t own a motorhome with an AC unit, for a single paper Benjamin you can buy a Ryobi bucket top misting fan with battery and charger (battery included, bucket sold separately).

The bucket topper misting fan was built by Ryobi and it was ninety-nine dollars. For less than a hundred bucks I’m willing to give anything a try. But, before I bought the fan/mister combo, I looked to see if any other manufacturer made it. I did this because my shop and trailer is not filled with Ryobi tools. I have a bunch of Craftsman tools (with batteries), DeWalt tools (with batteries) and one Snap-On tool (with a battery). That means I have three separate chargers I need to keep track of and I wasn’t looking to add a fourth. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anyone else who made this slick little contraption so now I have a fourth battery manufacturer/charger in my race trailer. Ryobi is now in the family.

There is good news and there is bad news. The good news is the Ryobi comes with a battery and charger. The bad news is chances are it is different from the battery you use for your impact gun (Craftsman), different than the battery you use for your lights (Snap-On), and different than the battery you use for your drill (DeWalt). Well, that’s how it was at our shop, anyway.

Once I made peace with yet another charger in my arsenal I picked up a brand new 5-gallon bucket. Any bucket that is at our shop has been filled with various concoctions of fuel, paint, radiator fluid, oil, tranny fluid, etc. I wasn’t looking to have any of this toxic junk sprayed into my face. For five bucks I knew I had a brand new clean bucket.

The base of the Ryobi misting fan is designed to fit perfectly on top of a standard 5-gallon bucket. Simple and smart design.

I had to admit the design of this tool was pretty ingenious: a battery powered fan, sits on top of a 5-gallon bucket with water in it, a tube goes into the water and a pump sucks the water up pushing the water into two misters next to the fan. The fan is perched at the perfect height for anyone sitting in a chair to enjoy the cool breeze of cold misting water. Nothing complicated about it and it works as designed.

Simply fill a bucket with water and a suction tube from the Ryobi sucks the water up and pushes it through two misters near the fan for some sweet hot weather reprieve.

After testing the Ryobi at the shop with some tap water, we realized two things. The first was that five gallons of water at a race track paddock will be hard to come by. We would need to pack water. And second we could fill the bucket with ice, which will become water soon enough, and provide cooler misting power from the Ryobi. This meant this slick little tool was adding some complexities to our lives. We would have to remember to charge the battery, purchase ice and bring water. But, on a hot day, we would thank ourselves later.

To really cool things off we decided to add ice inside the bucket. Additionally, most paddocks don’t have a water supply so a few jugs of water brought to the track will be mandatory to make this whole thing work.

Our first field test of the misting bucket, which we refer to as Mr. Bucket (See what we did there? Mister Bucket … Mr. Bucket) was a complete success. It was a miserable hot day, we had the bucket filled halfway with ice,  and topped off with water we brought in jugs. We fired up the fully charged Ryobi and enjoyed the sweet and satisfying breeze of icy cold mist. I was quickly recharged between track sessions, and thus damp. Pro Tip: Bring a towel.

To ensure we don’t use our misting bucket for toxic things like radiator fluid (nobody needs that in their eye) we used our favorite tool, our Brother P-Touch label maker, to keep things nice, organized and separate.

A hundred bucks, a bucket, some water and some ice and you have the ability to beat the heat. And now you have one more thing to charge, pack and think about before your next track weekend. You’re welcome!

Ah, the sweet mist from some cold water. Now you can enjoy it anywhere with a hundred bucks and a bucket of water…and if you remember to charge it, that very important charged battery.

Rob Krider is a four-time NASA Honda Challenge 4 National Champion and the author of the novel, “Cadet Blues.”

Images courtesy of Rob Krider and Rob Krider


  1. Rob you forgot to add the Tactical Ops beer in the ice to cool down for when the sun sets! (I know that you always keep that in a different cooler, but maybe now you don’t need one cooler?)

  2. I got this a couple of years when I decided to just go all in on Ryobi’s One+ system. You can also connect it to a garden hose if you have access. Also have their smaller leaf blower and their 2 gallon sprayer which came with a back pack and extra tank. I bought a third tank so I have one for bug spray, one for weed spray and one for water that I’ve used along with the blower to cool my diff between sessions on hot days.

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