NASCAR Drivers Can't Stand the Heat

Katrina ShankleAnalyst IJune 19, 2008

It's summer and the drivers of the NASCAR series, particularly the Sprint Cup, are complaining of the heat and the subsequent exhaustion they are experiencing during the hottest time of the year.

Typically temperatures in the race cars rise to 140 degrees Farenheit. This is a combination of the sun from above, the track radiating heat from below, and the cars themselves having minimal (if any) insulation between the engine compartment, exhaust, and the driver.

Did I mention the drivers wear multiple layers and a thick firesuit that doesn't "breathe" very well?

Does this fall under NASCAR's new "suggestion" that the drivers not complain about the COT? 

The idea of placing an air conditioner in the race cars seems logical to me.

It would be equal across the board: same weight air condition mounted in the same place the same way in every car.  No team would face a disadvantage.  A pulley can be placed on the compressor (12 in. to pull 1200-1500 RPM on the compressor when the car is turning 8000 RPM).  The air conditioning could attach to helmet by a hose, similar to the koolbox set-up currently run on the cars.  An additional hose could run cold air to the driver's feet to avoid burns.

It's not a completely off-base idea.  And even if this idea doesn't fly, it might benefit the sport for the R&D center to look into something to reduce heat in the cockpit. 

Running four inches apart on the racetrack with midday heat bearing down causes physical and mental exhaustion and short tempers.  Both of those can contribute to wrecks. 

Could an air conditioning unit in the race cars save a life on the track?

Who knows?

But it could possibly save a few million dollar's worth in pricey race cars.