Endurance is the name of the game
Part 1 of Nathan Woolford's features on Aston Martin Racing and endurance motorsport, which looks at the ways in which an endurance racecar driver requires the same physical and mental attributes to that of an endurance athlete.
Make no mistake – endurance racecar drivers are athletes.
Just imagine being sat behind a wheel for five hours, reaching speeds of up to 200 miles per hour while staying mentally focused on the car, the course and, ultimately, the race.
To perform as an endurance racer at the highest level certainly requires similar physical and mental attributes to that of an endurance athlete, with the length of drive time and level of concentration required setting this genre of racing aside from any other.
It’s all about driver performance, and using diet, exercise and supplements to get the best out of a driver on race day.
The drivers’ kit is always ready and waiting, with helmets and other peripherals waiting on standby next to the car.
Aston Martin Racing team trainer Pete Webster embodies all of the values that place drivers alongside athletes in the modern sporting sphere. An experienced personal trainer, physiotherapist and performance director, Webster looks after all of Team AMR’s drivers and manages how his men eat, drink, exercise and rest during a race week, monitoring all aspects of their day-to-day fitness.
His work ensures that Team AMR’s drivers are transformed, so they are resilient to injuries, have great cardiovascular abilities and are, in essence, world class athletes. Their roster of Christian Klien, Stefan Mücke, Darren Turner, Adrian Fernandez, Andrew Meyrick and Harold Primat are all kept in tip top condition.
With Team AMR competing in a host of different racing competitions, including the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, it is a relentless job, but one Webster is dedicated to.
He explains: “My main job is to monitor the training of the drivers. I break it down into three categories. There is the cardiovascular endurance, the strength endurance, and then the ability to recover and minimise injury. These are the main factors we focus on.
“If a driver is tired and fatigued, he’s not going to be able to concentrate. I spend a lot of my time calming drivers down. By their nature, drivers are very competitive, and their training is intense. For endurance-based training, you need to slow down and lower the heart rate.
“It’s all about duration, and ensuring that the drivers are not burning out. With the amount of training our drivers do, their cardio rates are exceptional. I spend a lot of my time studying heart rates of drivers, and it is important to slow them down, which will help improve their race times.”
Armed with an arsenal of medical supplies, fitness-testing equipment and a wealth of knowledge, Webster is not necessarily the kind of figure you would associate with motor racing, but he is keen to stress the importance of diet and fitness in modern racing circles.
He added: “On the track side, it is simply a case of making sure that the driver is purely focusing on the race. Our ever evolving system to do this is not based on rocket science, it is simply about organisation. Everyone knows what to do, when to do it and where everything is.
“Food is pre-planned, based on the calorie expenditure demands of each day, and hydration and electrolyte levels established during previous fitness tests.
“Supplements such as Quick Energy give us the benefits of providing a natural vitamin stimulant for a boost in focus and concentration when most needed, which can be at any point in the day.
“The drivers’ kit is always ready and waiting, with helmets and other peripherals waiting on standby next to the car. Like any well rehearsed routine, it adapts when required but still ensures an element of calm over the turbulent buzz of the pit lane.”
It would seem that anyone who thinks motor racing is easy should think again. The mix of fitness, concentration, stamina and resilience required of a driver represents a blend of skills that is difficult to conquer.
The facilities and specialist knowledge that are on hand at Aston Martin Racing would be befitting of many athletic institutions, and the time and care given to driver welfare is as important a factor come race day as the maintenance of the cars themselves.
Drivers are as finely tuned as their engines, and nurtured just as thoroughly and as carefully for ultra performance under great stress.
It’s simple – endurance drivers are endurance athletes. As Webster said: “With good training, even better diets and careful monitoring, the drivers are transformed to be resilient to injuries, have great cardiovascular abilities and are soon enough world class athletes.”
Learn more online at Quick Energy