Driver Cooling and Hydration
If you have ever driven a race car in the summer with ambient temperatures in the 90 degree F range, you no doubt know how uncomfortable it gets. In this environment the temperature inside the race car can easily approach 120-140 degrees F. And if you happen to race a car with fixed side windows, like a Porsche GT3 Cup car, the temperature could even get higher. No matter how good your physical conditioning, you are going to get very, very hot and probably dehydrated in a short period of time unless you take precautionary steps.
Fortunately, there are several solutions to these problems. First, there are several new Nomex drivers suits which are extremely light weight and very breathable. Examples of these are the as RS ClimaLite and RSR Climacool by adidas, Prime SP-16 by Sparco, the One Evo by OMP, the Supertech, GP Tech and GP Pro by Alpinestars and the Hero TS-9 by Sabelt. All of these suits are 3 layers and weigh 300 grams/ square meter or less. These are the lightest weight drivers suits on the market today.
A cool suit system is the perfect compliment to an ultra-lightweight driver's suit. These systems consist of a large cooler (13 or 19 Qt.) which has a built-in submersible pump. The cooler is filled with water to cover the pump and then topped-up with ice. The ice water is pumped from the cooler via insulated tubes to a T-shirt which the driver wears under the driver's suit. The T-shirt has small tubes stitched to the outside thru which the ice water flows. After the water has circulated thru the tubes it is returned to the cooler via a return tube. The system is completed with a rheostat which controls the pump operation. If the driver gets too cold the pump can be adjusted to cycle on and off at different rates rather than to run continuously. This system allows the drivers core temperature to remain cooler and thus allow the driver to function at peak performance levels even in very high temperatures inside the race car.
Hydration is another key element in helping a driver to perform for extended periods in high heat conditions. At Northstar we have developed a hydration system which consists of a dry-break connector fitted to the outside of the helmet and a piece of surgical tubing which extends inside the helmet functioning as a "drink tube". We utilize an insulated CamelBak drink container which is typically tie-wrapped to the roll cage behind the driver's seat. The container holds 72 ounces of water (or performance drink) and the opening is large enough to allow ice cubes to be used to keep the liquid cold. Our system then uses a tube to connect the container with an in-line check valve and another dry-break connector on the end. That way when the driver gets into the car all that is necessary is to plug the two dry-break connectors together and "voila" the driver can drink cold water while driving.
One last item that is available is a fresh air blower system which utilizes the same cooler as the cool suit system but heat exchangers are included along with the pump. Outside "clean air" is blown thru the cooler's heat exchangers and into the driver's helmet providing a supply of cool clean air to aid breathing on those sweltering hot summer days.
We find the combination of an ultra-lightweight suit, cool suit system (with or without the fresh air component) and hydration system to be very effective at dealing with the high temperatures found in today's race cars. Not only will you stay much more comfortable, but you will most certainly be able to outperform your competition who are not so well equipped.
At Northstar Motorsports we carry all of these ultra-lightweight suits from Alpinestars, OMP, Sabelt and Sparco. Northstar also carries Cool Suit systems and we have our proprietary Professional Endurance Racing Hydration System.
adidas RSR Climacool
adidas RS ClimaLite
Alpinestars GP Tech
Alpinestars GP Pro
OMP One Evo
Sabelt Hero TS-9
Sparco Prime SP-16
Cool Shirt Systems
Helmet Blower Systems
Professional Endurance Racing Hydration System
Tech Tips Archive
Driver Cooling and Hydration
Head and Neck Restraints and Proper Fitting of Helmet Anchors
Auto Racing Helmet Requirements
All Driver's Suits Are Not Created Equal
Toe in or Toe out
Understanding Tire Temperatures
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