Behind the Scenes: Drivers Share their Health and Fitness Regimens
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Andy Pilgrim
Behind the Scenes:Drivers Share their Health and Fitness Regimens
-by Sahar Hassani

It takes more than a fine-tuned race car to win races. Many of today's A-list drivers must be in top physical and mental shape to handle the rigors of racing a car under extreme conditions. High speeds, hot temperatures, high humidity, short-high banked ovals, and long hours behind the wheel can push drivers to the edge. "Some street circuits are killer in hot weather because you get no cooling between the concrete, a lot of dead air" explains GM factory driver Andy Pilgrim. "The ALMS GT or GTS cars can be tough if you have no cooling in them as they are pretty physical. If you are in good enough shape though, none of this becomes an issue. You're just aware of the extra effort needed." Tri-Point Mazda driver, Randy Pobst, lists Infineon Raceway as one of the more challenging tracks. "Usually, Infineon is hot in the summer. You're almost always turning, lots of shifting due to slow and fast corners and there is never much of a chance to rest on a straight."

In order to have the strength and stamina to fight fatigue, drivers stay conditioned all year long. Cardio workouts, strength training, and a healthy diet are an integral part of the package of winning a championship. Drivers typically exercise five to six times per week during the off season. Once the season begins, travel and racing overtakes their schedule. But that's okay as racing is one of the best workouts a driver can get. Racers are generally lean and thin and are interested in strengthening muscles to prepare them for driving with high g-forces, no power steering, and double stints. Strict diets are the norm, where drivers stay away from red meat, fast food, and avoid alcohol several days before a race.

When it was time for Shiners Hospitals for Children-Chicago (www.shrinershospitals.org) to kick off their Wellness Program, they turned to today's top drivers for help. Carl Edwards, Bill Auberlen, Andy Pilgrim, Randy Pobst and Andy Lally shared their health and fitness regimens with Shriners patients to help motivate them to become physically fit by serving as role models. Getting a peek into the drivers' healthy lifestyles will encourage the patients to emulate this behavior and exercise despite their physical disabilities; ultimately improving their quality of life. Patients participating in this program will receive autographed t-shirts, baseball caps, and posters signed by the drivers. These racers are an inspiration to Shriners' patients and hospital staff. By sharing their responses with our readers, I hope you will be inspired to become healthier too!

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