So on Friday evening on Fox Sports Live, former Mount Carmel star football player Donovan McNabb said that race cars drivers are not athletes.
Donovan needs to take a race car ride, any series, anytime because its nothing like driving your street car, even if you go 120 MPH (and I have), its not the same. Last year courtesy of Doug Foley Drag Racing School (now called Pure Speed Racing), I took a ride at Route 66 Dragway in a top fuel car and I went a quarter of a mile in 8 seconds at 151 MPH and let me tell you it takes your breath away literally. I was not in good physical shape (I’m 15 pounds lighter now), when I made that run, I could barely climb in the car and I was later physically ill that afternoon because the G forces hit you in the gut like a sucker punch. You are pinned back in your seat and the stands go back quickly like bad graphics in a second rate video game.
In short to be successful in the racing business at any level you better be more that just in shape but be in great athletic shape.
So yes Donovan is dead wrong, a lot of professional racers from NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson to NHRA’s Antron Brown to Indy Car’s Tony Kanaan, take their diet, exercise regiment and physical condition extremely seriously. I have spent a lot of time at the race track, I know the champions of racing have professional chefs, personal trainers and stick to being in shape.
Driving a race car is not like being in traffic, unless your daily commute includes speeds over 200 MPH and hard banking, other championship drivers in competition.
One thing to remember of racing is how much it takes out of you physically & mentally and on a warm day (as the one I raced in was), you are parched and need to be on top of your game to compete. Just because its not a direct contact physical contact sport (trust me crashing a car is as physically contact as it gets), doesn’t mean its not worth training for. NASCAR races often go for 200-400 laps and last more than 2-4 hours with never getting out of the car. NHRA Drag Races can be up to 4 runs with speeds up to over 300 MPH with several G’s of force on your body. Indy Car races have the highest average speeds of over 200 MPH for long runs of several hours. These are more marathons than sprints and take incredible endurance and physical discipline.
Take a look at a senior NASCAR racer like Mark Martin, he is legendary for training, being in top shape and making sure despite his age (54), he is in great shape and trains as well as any athlete.
Also newly minted six time NASCAR Sprint Champion Jimmie Johnson is known for running triathlons, marathons and competing on the highest level of running as well as racing. Think about this with Jimmie winning his sixth championship today he has won six titles in eight years. That’s Bill Russell territory and how many rings do you have Donovan?
In other words Donovan, the best in racing are athletes, unlike you who sit behind a desk gives out uninformed opinions.
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