After all, they’re driving 200 miles in a 3-hour period. Most people eat and drink during a car journey that lasts this long, why wouldn’t NASCAR drivers? The Daytona 500 can last more than four hours, so what happens if a driver gets hungry and thirsty?
Yes, NASCAR drivers do eat and drink during a race. Gatorade has a hydration system in the cars that keep fluids cold for drivers. Many drivers keep snack bars and protein bars in the glove box, and others get sandwiches and snacks passed to them during the race. What they eat and drink depends on the driver, with many electing not to eat anything at all.
So, the answer really depends on the driver and the team. Most of the answers revolve around not having to use the bathroom during a race. What’s the craziest thing someone has asked for in a race? Do drivers really go to the bathroom in their suits? Do they actually drive with their knees while eating during a caution? This article is going to go through the best, worst, and most awkward interviews given by NASCAR drivers about eating, drinking, and using the bathroom in the car.
Table of Contents
Do NASCAR Drivers Eat and Drink During a Race?
Surprisingly, the answer is yes to this question. Most drivers eat a protein rich meal before the race, as they don’t want to eat anything that will add weight. They also make sure they won’t have a gut bomb during the race. They are seat belted into the car… It’s not an easy task to get out and head to the bathroom after a meal consisting of chili or Mexican.
Just like other endurance athletes, however, a meal beforehand often doesn’t cover the energy needed for the entirety of the race. Marathon runners have a carb-rich pasta that they eat during races, and many drivers elect to have these open and ready in the car.
They have to be able to eat without removing their gloves or helmets, so these small packages or carb candies work well to take the edge off. They often will eat candy bars or protein bars during cautions, as long as they are already opened and can be easily accessed with their gloves still on.
Drinking water is a whole other beast. Some drivers have a hydration system that hooks up to a straw in their helmet. They are able to take a drink by simply pressing a button on their steering wheel.
Other drivers elect to keep water in a water bottle beside them and are able to spray water into their helmets when they need it. Drivers can lose up to 12 pounds of fluid during a race because of how hot their cars are. They also take salt tablets prior to the race so they don’t have to use the bathroom during. So sometimes, during cautions, they are so parched that they need fluids to stay focused under extreme amounts of pressure.
Some drivers don’t eat or drink at all, the stress, adrenaline and high intensity of the race itself keeping them from being hungry or thirsty. They don’t move at all, so “gut bombs” are avoided at all cost. They cannot readjust, and any need to get out to use the bathroom can set them back multiple laps.
Everything they eat and drink would be tested prior to the race to make sure their stomachs don’t have an adverse reaction. Also, “stress stomach” is a very real thing. Some drivers might feel hungry during the race, but they know not to eat because their stomachs don’t handle the food with the high amount of stress.
What do NASCAR Drivers Eat During a Race?
Most only will eat a carb-rich pasta or carb-rich candies to keep them focused during the race. Others will eat protein bars or candy bars.
Some have requested sandwiches during a race, and their pit crew will hand them the food during a pit stop on a long stick through the open right-side window.
Jeff Gordon famously asked for a hot dog during a race, and his pit crew delivered. Whatever it is, most drivers agree that they only eat during a caution.
They can’t remove their helmet, gloves, or their fire-retardant hood during a race. It leaves little room to get food into their helmets. They also drive with their knees while they are doing this, so the quicker that they can get food into their stomachs the safer it is.
How do NASCAR Drivers Eat and Drink to Avoid going to the Bathroom in the Car?
Ah, the age-old question. It burns in our minds as we watch the racers turn left for hours at a time, shirking death by fractions of an inch. We have to go to the bathroom, often multiple times, during the race. So, how do NASCAR drivers eat and drink to avoid going to the bathroom during the race?
Many take salt tablets before the race even begins. This, along with the liters of sweat that they lose, makes it so their bodies don’t produce urine. Therefore, no need to pee.
The race itself is three to five hours long. Many endurance athletes, from marathon runners to triathletes, don’t need to pee during their races. Drivers are athletes, even if we can’t see it from the outside of the car. They’re used to putting their bodies under immense heat and stress. Often, when under stress for this long, their bodies won’t need to pee, even if they stay hydrated.
They’ve trained their bodies to “hold it” for three or four hours. This isn’t a leisurely 200-mile drive like we take on a Sunday, with soda and chips as our main source of gas station nutrients. NASCAR drivers are athletes, and they train, eat and hydrate like athletes.
So, what happens if nature does call during a race? Some drivers say once or twice a season (or a career, depending on the driver) they have to absolutely go to the bathroom.
If it’s a “gut bomb”, drivers can get out and go to the bathroom during the race. They obviously never want to do this, and most of their diets and in-car food is geared towards this not happening at all.
Now, if they have to urinate, drivers will just go in their suits. They’ve sweated so much that the fans can’t tell, and some drivers will cover the noticeable wet spot with water from their water bottle. It depends on the driver, but most will push through the distraction.
Every fiber is concentrating on the road ahead, with their lives and the lives of their fellow drivers at stake with every turn and decision. Any distraction has to be avoided and needing to go can be a huge distraction. So, drivers will just go. After all, when it’s life or limb, what’s a little urine on a seat?