by Dale Ross October 27, 2021
EL SEGUNDO, CA. The release of preliminary findings from a new study by Dr. David Ferguson, PhD ACSM-CEP at Michigan State University, confirms the important role that proper and consistent hydration plays in a racecar driver’s performance. The study, the first of its kind, quantifies the impact of proper hydration in terms of braking ability, driver errors and late-race lap times.
“Racecar drivers routinely compete in hot environments while wearing fire protective suits,” said Dr. Ferguson. “The thermal strain can increase core body temperature by four degrees Fahrenheit, eliciting seven pounds of sweat loss. This type of strain can induce mental and physical fatigue, impacting their performance and reaction time. Consistent and proper hydration during competition can help mitigate these impairments. Unfortunately, most drivers hydrate on an inconsistent basis throughout a race, with methods that do not provide the precise amount their body needs when they need it.”
Dr. Ferguson, who studies the physiological stress placed on racecar drivers and pit crews, worked with NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula One teams to study the impact of consistent hydration on driver performance. The study was conducted at the Spartan Motorsports Performance Laboratory Michigan State University. Research involved a professional racing simulator located within an environmental chamber to control temperature, humidity, car setup, and track changes, and 20 professional drivers from NASCAR, IndyCar, IMSA and Formula E.
According to the study, when using a simple ‘drink bottle and long straw’ drinking system during simulated racing in a hot environment, drivers consumed water at the start of the driving session and then again near the end of the session. This drinking pattern results in a driver becoming dehydrated with an elevated core body temperature. The driving performance metrics associated with this drinking pattern indicate that, at the end of the driving session, braking ability is impaired and lap times become slower and less consistent. This mimics the real-world behavior where most drivers will only drink during pit stops and caution laps to avoid distraction.
A constant level of optimal hydration, as provided by the FluidLogic™ system, can mitigate these impairments by rehydrating the driver, lowering core body temperature, preserving braking ability, and reducing driving errors. These favorable physiological and performance indicators were associated with a 1-second improvement in lap time. In a sport where teams can invest $100,000 in vehicle engineering to gain 0.1 seconds in lap time, a 1-second improvement is substantial.
The FluidLogic™ “smart” hydration system was the system used in the study to attain an optimal level of hydration. FluidLogic is an automatic hydration system that precisely measures and delivers the right amount of fluids right when they are needed to achieve optimal performance. The frequency and amount of fluid can be pre-programmed through the FluidLogic app. The computer alerts the driver that it is time to hydrate with an LED light on the steering wheel. When the light flashes, the driver pushes the button and the “instant-on” pump delivers the perfect amount of water to keep them hydrated during the race through a 4-mil hydration hose that runs through the center of their MagLock® fresh-air hose to a mouthpiece designed to attach to their radio mic.
The FluidLogic system was developed by Ed Jaeger, an entrepreneur and racer himself, and his company, Rainmaker Solutions, Inc., where he is president and CEO. When he was competing, he found it challenging to stay hydrated – remembering to drink while focusing on the race and fumbling with water bottles were an unneeded distraction. He and his team researched and tested various hands-free delivery systems for the past five years, and the unique FluidLogic system was the outcome. It is designed to integrate with the Maglock magnetic connection, also developed by Rainmaker Solutions, Inc. The Maglock magnetic coupler is the most popular clean-air connection system used in most motorsports series today.
“As a racer myself, I saw how dehydration can take a toll on a driver, both during and after a race,” said Jaeger. “By the end of a race it can definitely effect your reaction time. Drivers tell us that they can now focus more on driving without having to think about getting the proper amount of fluids. They delegate that responsibility to the FluidLogic system. The end result is they can focus more and perform better during the race and feel better afterwards.”
After three years of iterations to perfect each and every component, the system underwent a year of extensive on-track testing by drivers in race conditions and the FluidLogic and Maglock Air systems are now in full production and available to motorsports athletes everywhere.
In Best Season Yet, Colton Herta Stayed Hydrated with Innovative FluidLogic™ System. One thing that paid off for Colton Herta Racing this year was trusting FluidLogic™ for his in-car hydration. “Delegating my hydration needs to FluidLogic has meant one less thing I need to think about when I’m racing,” said Herta. "FluidLogic does exactly what I need it to when I need it. It keeps me hydrated throughout the race, and it’s made a big difference for me this year.”