The paddock at VIRginia International Raceway is large – large enough that many racers bring golf carts or bicycles to get around throughout the weekend. One day, years ago, I found myself sprinting from the false grid to the classroom and realized a few things while doing so. First, get a bike. Second, man I need to work on my fitness.
Since then, I got into running Spartan Races, initially with some fellow racetrack friends and eventually with my dad. From 2013 to 2018, I ran 23 events and earned four of their “Trifecta” badges. But, finishing a Spartan Race doesn’t always mean you felt good about it – walking and cramping can slow you down, and lack of strength can lead to failure at some obstacles.
While the lovely and bearded Kevin of FlimFlamSpeed has been working on my racecar this off-season, I’ve been working on myself. I wanted to identify all the small failure points of my Spartan Races and improve. The motivation came from the basic desire to be more fit, but also a desire to keep improving as a racer.
The unfortunate part about this is that I’m not really a “gym person.” The idea of going by myself to execute some routine isn’t motivating. I discovered that committing to a small group class and instructor does the trick, and I’ve been attending two studios in recent months.
My journey to easier paddock jaunts began almost two years ago, when my friend Justin told me he was going to be a spin instructor. I went to his free “community” class and was hooked. Thirty or so people, great music, darkened room? It felt more like a small party than a workout.
This improved cardiovascular endurance isn’t just beneficial for the sake of sprinting from trailer to trailer.
I’ve historically finished races feeling tired and winded. The more I work on cardio, the better I feel.
Toward the end of last year, I joined the [solidcore]
cult team as well. I felt good with my cardio health, and wanted to start introducing strength training into my routine. Solidcore is a kind of super-aggressive pilates class, focusing on slow and small movements. I’ve seen quite a lot of progress in just a few months, actually outgrowing some “slim fit” clothes.
This increased strength will be helpful when it comes to working on the car track-side, or carrying wheels to have tires mounted.
Keeping my fitness in check will, in theory, keep overall exhaustion lower throughout a race. It’ll keep my body in the best possible shape should I have to come to a stop and burst out of the driver’s door as quickly as possible.
Our Club Codes and Regulations require all racers to pass an evacuation test. The requirement is to exit the car in “racing state” (helmet, HANS, harness, window net all set up) in 15 seconds or less.
Most racing suits are rated to about 11 seconds of fire protection. While I’d hope to never pull that red “FIRE” handle on my dashboard, I’d like to be in the best shape possible should I have to.
And that peace of mind alone makes the cost of these classes worth it.