New physiological study of CART drivers

American researchers from the University of Miami, FL, who wired seven CART drivers to measure their heart rates and oxygen consumption during special high-speed driving sessions, have concluded that race drivers need the same stamina and physiological responses as top athletes in traditional team sports. The tests, on both an oval and a road course, were directed by CART medical director Dr Steve Olvey. The results have now been published by the American College of Sports Medicine

New physiological study of CART drivers

Dr Olvey, who is also a professor of neurology at the university (and a director of the Jackson Memorial Trauma Center in Miami), worked on the project with Dr Patrick Jacobs. After the maximal physiological responses of the subjects had been determined by a graded treadmill test, a portable metabolic analyzer and EKG were directly attached to the subjects as they drove the racecars.

The report, entitled 'Physiological Responses to High-Speed Open-Wheel Racecar Driving', has been published in the ACSM journal, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. It states that the factors influencing a race driver's heart rate and oxygen intake are the energy expended in controlling the car, the driver's own position within the car, G-loads, muscular work and neural activity.

The researchers measured and compared the physical demands of oval racing and road racing. The oval driving produced mean heart rate values of 142 beats per minute, against 152 on the Sebring International Raceway road circuit. The average oxygen consumption while driving a competitive pace at Sebring was 13 times that of the mean consumption level when the drivers were at rest.

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