A Real-Time Case Study in Driver Science: Physiological Strain and Related Variables

Edward S Potkanowicz
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance 2015, 10 (8): 1058-60
This case study was conducted as an attempt to quantify racecar-driver core body temperature and heart rate (HR) in real time on a minute-by-minute basis and to expand the volume of work in the area of driver science. Three drivers were observed during a 15-lap, 25-min maximal event. Each driver competed in the closed-wheel, closed-cockpit sports-car category. Data on core body temperature and HR were collected continuously using the HQ Inc. ingestible core probe system and HR monitoring. Driver 1 pre- and postrace core temperatures were 37.80°C and 38.79°C, respectively. Driver 2 pre- and postrace core temperatures were 37.41°C and 37.99°C. Driver 1 pre- and postrace HRs were 102 and 161 beats/min. Driver 2 pre- and postrace HRs were 94.3 and 142 beats/min. Driver 1's physiological strain index (PSI) at the start was 3.51. Driver 2's PSI at the start was 3.10. Driver 1 finished with a PSI of 7.04 and driver 2 with a PSI of 3.67. Results show that drivers are continuously challenged minute by minute. In addition, before getting into their cars, the drivers already experience physiological and thermal challenges. The data suggest that drivers are getting hot quickly. In longer events, this represents the potential for severe heat injury. Investigating whether the HRs observed are indicative of work or evidence of a thermoregulatory-associated challenge is a direction for future work. The findings support the value of real-time data collection and offer strong evidence for the expansion of research on driver-athletes.

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