In the old days, race drivers weren’t into conditioning and good eating habits, but the new breed of driver adheres to programs with emphasis on physical training, nutrition and all-around healthy living habits. Some are more diligent than others, and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Josh Wise is an example of a driver than has raised the conditioning bar to a new height.
Wise, 30, is relatively new to the Sprint Cup ranks, but the former USAC champion has gained a reputation for being a steady performer with considerable upside potential. While honing his stock-car skills, he has driven in 53 Sprint Cup races and 115 Nationwide Series events to date. His primary job is to drive the MDS Transport Ford for the Front Row Motorsports team, and that organization is impressed with the skills he has brought to the multi-car team.
“Scott Speed got me into cycling three years ago, and we used it as a way to training for racing,” he said. “It started out as a joke, but it turned us into challenging each other. I didn’t have a background in athletics and had never run more than three miles until a year ago.” As the two progressed, one thing led to another and it wasn’t long before Wise tried a triathlon where he fell in love with that form of competition. “Since then, it has been a growing experience for me.”
Wanting to take care of his body in the demanding form of competition, Wise began working with a trainer, to learn more about the complexities of training and nutrition. “There’s a fine line in training,” said the well-spoken racer. “Ironman competition puts high demands on your body and a lot of maintenance has to take place, ranging from eating to doing things to recover your body.”
In Racine, Wisconsin, during a break in the Sprint Cup schedule, Wise joined 2,200 others in a half Ironman Triathlon, which included 70 miles of swimming (1.2 miles), biking (56 miles) and running (13 miles). Finishing 394th the first time out was considered a major accomplishment.
To enhance his biking performance, he took his bike for a wind tunnel evaluation, using the same facility used by the race teams.
Pacing yourself and having a workable strategy are important to have and adhere to during a triathlon. There’s no resting time between events, as competitors climb swim, bike and run without taking a break. Swimming in Lake Michigan was a surprising experience for Wise, as the Great Lake was cool, windy and choppy, dissimilar to his swims in a calm North Carolina lake.
Wise indicated he needed a week to recover after the Wisconsin ordeal, and he used days leading up to the Brickyard 400 to mend his body. Light workouts were completed, including a short bike ride and run along with swimming while in the Indianapolis area. Also, he kept in close contact with his trainer, so not to injure his body.
In addition to Speed, Wise trains with fellow drivers Blake Koch, Trevor Bayne, Michael McDowell and Justin Allgaier. Koch will compete with him for the full Ironman Triathlon. His motivation has also enticed his parents, Eric and Kris Wise, into a conditioning program. Also, Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, a fitness buff, has inquired about Wise’s programs.
Wise’s most vocal fans are his wife, Ashley, and daughters, Harlow and Remy, who accompanied him to Wisconsin. They are the focal point of his life and he said they come first. Time management has been another challenge for Wise, and he has found the means to do so, giving up other hobbies (golf and go-karting) and time wasters to focus on his priorities. “I have given up my nothing time,” he said.
In more ways than one, Wise is a young man in a hurry, and he’s pulling out all stops to becoming a better racer on and off the track.