NASCAR Drivers Explain Why They Put Themselves Through Intense Workouts

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

On the surface, being a NASCAR driver seems simple enough. You sit in a car, drive in circles for a few hours, and you’re done, right? Well, not quite. As with any sport, there’s far more to being a NASCAR driver than meets the eye.

In addition the never-ending interviews and press conferences, NASCAR drivers also put it an incredible amount of hours in their simulators between contests and complete multiple intense workouts ahead of every race weekend.

Now, the interviews and virtual practices make sense, but workouts? Why would a NASCAR driver, who spends the entire race sitting down, need exercise? Well, other than the benefits we all receive from a consistent workout routine, staying in shape makes racing easier for drivers.

Kris Wright, a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver, says that he completes intense endurance training to better manage the intense heat inside his vehicle. “The reason we train is for those two or three-hour races we have every year that are just grueling,” said Wright. “Like Texas last year was 101 or 102 degrees.”

For most of us, two to three days of exercise per week is enough. To handle the conditions inside the stock cars, however, NASCAR drivers complete five or six weekly workouts. “When I went to the gym about two or three times a week it was a little less great when I would get into a race car or get out of a race car, so to speak,” Wright noted.

NASCAR Xfinity Series driver, Ryan Vargas, agrees. “At the end of the day, you are strapped into this metal tin can basically for two or three hours at a time,” Vargas says. “And inside those cars, temperatures can reach 125 to 135 degrees.”

NASCAR Drivers Complete Both Mental and Physical Workouts

In addition to the vigorous physical exercises, NASCAR drivers are careful to stay mentally sharp. Outstanding hand-eye coordination and lightning-quick reaction times are necessary to master the sudden braking and sharp turns that come with any NASCAR race.

“You never know when the car in front of you is going to spin out and hit the wall,” said Ryan Vargas. “So you have to be ready to avoid them.”

Hunter Smith, a former race car driver and owner of Fitstop Performance, added, “How long can they stay focused in these races. You hear the average attention span of someone is six to seven seconds.”

What’s Fitstop Performance, you ask? Only the first choice of training facility for drivers from local to national forms of motorsports. Smith says of his fitness center, “I was always an in shape driver. I always took my fitness and my health very seriously and I wanted to have an area where those guys can come and do the same and share in that fun.”

Hunter Smith is so devoted to the health and happiness of NASCAR drivers, in fact, that he often travels with them to races. While there, he helps ensure that they’re staying hydrated and maintaining a nutritious diet.