A lot of people who may, as a generalization, look at people racing in categories such as Formula One, DTM and the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, and probably may say to themselves or their friends, “I could race like they do.” But the reality is very much different, especially when it comes to being the whole package when it comes to be a top-class racing driver, no matter which series it may be.
To find out more about how a race driver prepares, we spoke with a transplanted Australian racer, Ash Miller, who in 2011, secured the CUE ONE MX-5 Endurance Championship, before making the move to our shores shortly after. He has had the experience of driving on Brands Hatch in the Air Asia Clio Cup, but even though he is not in a race seat at the moment, preparation is key to ensure that he can be focused at the task at hand on from the moment the lights go out. So he was more than happy to speak to us on this edition of Track Talk, when it comes to fitness and diet in the racing world…
NVC: Ash, thanks for giving us this insight into your regime when it comes to preparing for race weekends. How important is it for all racers to be at the top of their game?
Ash: With prep for a race, the more you do, the better you perform - it's like any sport, really. Personally, although I'm not actively in a car, I'm still prepped at 100% ready for the opportunity.
NVC: We recently talked about how important karting is for racing drivers themselves as a key part of their racing program. How do you keep yourself in the “zone” when it comes to getting that chance to get back behind the wheel?
Ash: Basically, everything you away from the circuit plays a vital role on it, so I give a lot of time to remaining primed and ready to race. Working at a kart track helps to keep sharp (a lot of time on track!) and doing events like a recent charity karting endurance event I took part in the other week, really help to click your head back into race mode again.
NVC: A lot of the top drivers spend a lot of time training for the barrage of vibrations, noise and impacts that can be suffered during the rough times in a race car, as its similarities with a road car only seems to be the body panels are very similar. What sort of training do you do to keep up the optimum fitness for racing in general?
Ash: I do between 2 and 3 hours of gym work a day - this includes running, free weights, and strength exercises to keep the active muscles prepped and primed. Depending on my day, which is normally around work as well as injuries, like my right ankle which is really bad at the moment, I run between 4 and 8 miles every couple of days, but do a minimum of 40 minutes of skipping a day around a 2 hour weight training routine.
Neck strength, forearm strength, and lower back strength are pretty vital areas that every driver really needs to pay close attention to, as all of these take a pounding on the circuit.
NVC: Ash, as with any fitness regime, taking on board the right balance of nutrients is key to keeping the fitness levels high, especially as you also Irish dancing as well as the racing. What is your way of preparing for the race weekends, as well as your intake of food in general?
Ash: With regards to my general diet, I steer away from carbs whenever possible, as well as stick to lean meats, loads of vegetables, and dose up on protein shakes a lot of the time. Leading up to a weekend, the day before action kicks off, I then load up on carbs - pasta, rice, and some fish or meat to prime the body with energy ready for the weekend. The dancing helped to develop this diet, as it was the same before a competition weekend. Although I didn’t do it often, sometimes I'd pop an energy drink before going out to keep myself alert.
Along with that, I also take a range of suppliments, so as to keep myself in good health and try to keep away from any illness that could affect the racing. This will include multivitamins, protein shakes and bars, which really do help in keeping the fitness high at all times, being it during the season or during the winter time, when the racing is non-existent.
So with racing drivers like the late James Hunt not really that worried about what he ate or drank when it came to his overall fitness, the speeds and g-forces that today’s modern drivers experience, means that fitness regimes have to be incorporated into a driver’s preparation routine.
This ensures that if a driver experiences g-forces up to five times the force of gravity, he or she will not black out, as well as being able to brake hard with 120kg of force through their left leg, there will be no real problems from a physical side after nearly 2 hours behind the wheel, as drivers will also have a special formulated drink to keep them at the top of their game, when crucial decisions need to be made when victory is on the cards….
Nationwide Vehicle Contracts would like to thank Ash for taking the time to answer our questions on this edition of Track Talk (you can read more interviews in the series here). We wish him luck in finding a race seat soon.