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