Responses of Motor-Sport Athletes to V8 Supercar Racing in Hot Conditions

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Matt B. Brearley
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James P. Finn
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Background:

Despite the thermal challenge of demanding workloads performed in high cabin temperatures while wearing heavy heat-retardant clothing, information on physiological responses to racing V8 Supercars in hot conditions is not readily available.

Purpose:

To describe the thermal, cardiovascular, and perceptual strain on V8 Supercar drivers competing in hot conditions.

Methods:

Thermal strain was indicated by body-core temperature using an ingested thermosensitive pill. Cardiovascular strain was assessed from heart rate, hydration status, and sweat rate. Perceptual strain was estimated from self-rated thermal sensation, thermal discomfort (modified Gagge scales), perceived exertion (Borg scale), and perceptual strain index.

Results:

Prerace body-core temperatures were (mean ± SD) 37.7°C ± 0.4°C (range 37.0°C to 38.2°C), rising to 39.0°C ± 0.4°C (range 38.4°C to 39.7°C) postrace. Driver heart rates were >160 and >170 beats/min for 85.3% and 46.7% of racing, respectively. Sweat rates were 1.06 ± 0.12 L/h or 13.4 ± 1.2 mL · kg−1 · h−1, and postrace dehydration was 0.6% ± 0.6% of prerace body mass. Drivers rated thermal sensation as hot (10.3 ± 0.9), thermal discomfort as uncomfortable (3.1 ± 1.0), and perceived exertion as very hard to very, very hard (8.7 ± 1.7) after the races. Overall physiological and perceptual strain were 7.4 ± 1.0 and 7.1 ± 1.2, respectively.

Conclusions:

Despite the use of cooling, V8 Supercar drivers endure thermal, cardiovascular, and perceptual strain during brief driving bouts in hot conditions.

The authors are with the National Heat Training and Acclimatisation Centre, Northern Territory Institute of Sport, School of Science and Primary Industries, Charles Darwin University, Casuarina, NT 0811 Australia.

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