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Driver Performance
A fresh driver that is fitted comfortably to the car will have more energy to beat the competition during those long summer races. Paired with a fast car the driver that prepares to win can place himself above the crowd in simple fashion.

The first step is to ensure that your driver is comfortable in the seat. It may take a few tries and some extra fabrication but the effort is well worth it come lap 125. Seat position is extremely important and spending the time complete with ample driver feedback is essential. Pedals should be within easy reach to allow for a relaxed leg position. Shifters should be ergonomically located with radio switches in easy reach.

Mounting the steering wheel as close to the chest as possible will prevent back strain and keep your driver up on the wheel for the entire race. A larger steering wheel creates more leverage so I always recommend the largest steering wheel that will fit past your driver’s mid-section. Utilizing an adjustable steering column allows the driver to adjust steering position right from the seat allowing for fine tuning and ultimate driver comfort.

Using an adjustable steering column mount will allow the driver to adjust the steering column with a quick adjustment right from the seat, allowing for optimal driver comfort.

Using the largest steering wheel possible will increase leverage and make the car easier to turn late in the race. Mounting the steering wheel as close as possible to the driver's chest relieves pressure off the lower back.

A large drink holder will provide needed liquid helping to keep your driver in good condition throughout the event. A drink holder with a bite valve prevents siphoning so that a cool drink is available the entire night. Be sure that the drink canister is thoroughly cleaned after each event verses leaving un-used sports drink sitting in the container all week.

Be sure to clean the drink holder after each race verses letting liquid become rancid during the week.

Head rests and leg supports should be fitted to keep the driver relaxed. Care should be taken and an exit route should not be hampered by cockpit amenities. Vision is a top priority and easy access to mirrors will help your driver to see at critical moments. Side mirrors and wide view rear view mirrors are needed to increase driver awareness. Some people debate the side view mirror. In my view there is zero debate – you absolutely need a side view mirror.

Mounting the pedals so that the driver's legs stay relaxed will relieve fatigue and give the driver the energy to stay up on the wheel for the entire night.

Driver preparation begins with exercise and a pre-race meal habit that is designed for performance. Good nutrition is a full time project and eating right only on race day comes up short as compared to a proven meal regiment.

Daily hydration would include 80 ounces per day of water or sports drink. Competition hydration should start at least 48 hours before race day. On the evening before race day drink 16 ounces of your favorite sports drink before bedtime.

Eating quality food and skipping the fast food line will help you and your crew to stay sharp. Making a shopping list and a quick trip to the grocery store will put reasonable nutrition at your finger tips.

On race morning drink another 16 ounces of sports drink or water. If it is a day race drink an additional 16 ounces 2 hours prior to the event. For night races drink 16 ounces of sports drink 2 hours before the event and add and additional 16 ounces in the middle of the day. To assist in the hydration process, drink the liquid in large gulps verses sips.

During the event it is important to maintain hydration. 4 to 8 ounces should be consumed every 20 minutes. During the race a sports drink with a carbohydrate component will help maintain energy from green to checker.

Post race hydration is an important element helping the driver to recover and proper post race hydration starts a healthy cycle for the following week. With in an hour after the race drivers should drink 24 ounces of water or sports drink and continue through out the week with ample liquid intake. Drivers that sweat excessive amounts should replenish with 24 ounces of liquid for every pound lost during competition.

Caffeinated beverages should be avoided in the 48 hours before a race. Alcohol should be avoided in the 48 hours before race day as well. Cool water is absorbed by the body more efficiently than warm water – somewhere around 55 degrees seems to work best.

Proper race nutrition will help keep your driver in winning position. Foods high in carbohydrate provide the needed energy for endurance. The science states that carbohydrates fuel muscles and they breakdown it smaller sugars providing the energy for optimal performance. The sugars glucose, fructose and galactose are stored in the body. These sugar stores prevent muscle tissue breakdown during competition.

Energy bars, energy drinks and fruit are a good source of carbohydrates. Pasta, rice and bread contain needed carbohydrates and racers looking for an edge should load up 48 hours prior to grueling races. On race day a solid meal 4 hours before the race will provide valuable energy and give the body time to reap the benefits. A complete meal should be followed up with a sports drink one hour before the race.

Eating food high in protein completes the racers diet. Foods such as Beef, chicken, fish, milk, cheese, peanut butter and eggs are the choice of top racers. Champion racers eat a balanced diet of high protein foods to stay sharp. Protein repairs and rebuilds muscle fiber and assists in carbohydrate storage.

Fat is a needed ingredient in the sports diet but fatty foods should be avoided on race day as the body takes a long time to covert fat into energy. While tempting, racers should avoid donuts, burgers, meats, fries, chips and candy bars on race day. The fat content takes the body a long time to digest and the slow digestion diverts energy at game time.

Racers should stick with proven foods on race day. Each body is different and experimenting with a new food routine on race day or even the day before could lead to nausea and discomfort at the worst time. All athletes should pay attention to their bodies and only eat foods that they know will agree with their system.

Eating right just on race day will not produce competition results. A solid routine starts early in the week and peaks on race day. Exercise will assist the body in converting food into energy and a fit driver will excel regardless of the conditions. Helping your driver to be healthy is as important as the winning set up. Keeping your driver up on the wheel for 200 laps will create more wins. Really, the entire crew will be more efficient if they prepare their bodies with as much effort as they place on the racecar.

Below is a loose meal plan that has been tailored to be practical for racers. Olympic athletes follow a strict diet that would simply be too hard to follow for most racers and their teams. The suggestions below are designed to be obtainable for the racing crowd.

Sunday (Recovery Day)

Breakfast - Eggs, non fat milk and English muffin w/peanut butter

Lunch - Tuna sandwich, celery, pretzels

Dinner - Flank steak, red potatoes, peas, salad, apple juice


Breakfast - Grapefruit, whole grain cereal, non fat milk, cheese stick

Lunch – Turkey sandwich, oven baked Tostitos, apple

Dinner – Boneless/skinless chicken breast, pasta, string beans, salad


Breakfast – Oatmeal, low fat cheese, non fat milk, orange

Lunch – Roast beef sandwich, pretzels, yogurt

Dinner – Fish, brown rice, broccoli, mixed green salad, V-8 juice


Breakfast – Eggs, English muffin, orange

Lunch – Burrito, apple, V-8 juice

Dinner – Boneless/skinless chicken, corn, pasta, salad, juice


Breakfast - Cream of Wheat, strawberries, toast with peanut butter, orange juice

Lunch – Burger, grapes, sports drink

Dinner - Pork chop, brown rice, peas, salad w/shrimp, apple juice


Breakfast – Eggs, toast with peanut butter, grapefruit, V-8 Juice

Lunch – Chicken salad sandwich, apple, pretzels, sports drink

Dinner – Spaghetti with tomato and meat sauce, garlic bread, cauliflower, salad, water
Saturday (Race Day!) - Recommended competition day food suggestions per the American Dietetic Association:

4 hours prior to the race

Fresh fruit
Fruit and/or vegetable juice
Pasta with tomato sauce
Baked Potato
Energy Bars
Cereal with low fat milk
Low fat Yogurt
Toast with peanut butter, lean meat or low fat cheese
30 oz of a sports drink

2 hours prior to the race

Fresh fruit
Fruit or vegetable juice
Low fat yogurt
Sports drink

1 hour prior to the race

Fresh fruit
Fruit or vegetable drinks
12 oz of energy drink

Within 1 hour after the race

Energy bar
Sports drink

Within 2 hours after race

A complete meal

Between meal Snack ideas:

Fruit (Blueberries, apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, peaches), celery, pretzels, oven baked chips, soft corn tortillas with non fat cheese, low fat low sodium crackers with peanut butter, low fat yogurt, whole grain cereal with non fat milk, peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, non fat cheese sticks, Wheat Thins, Ritz, and Triskets.

A driver and crew that are well fed on a diet other than hot dogs and beer will be able to prepare the car and find ideas to keep the driver comfortable in the car. Proper diet and hydration will allow your team can take advantage of the winning set up by keeping the driver up on the wheel when the competition wears out. Eliminating fast food and replacing high fat foods with a reasonable diet requires simple pre-planning and can be easily adapted by any team. A quick trip to the grocery store will make quick trips to victory lane a repeatable healthy habit.

Go Forward – Move Ahead
Jeff Butcher
JOES Racing Products 8/1/09
Authored by: Knowledge Base Editor