Having overcome old societal stereotypes, the race car driver is now recognized as a true athlete. Research in driver science continues to contribute to this change by expanding its scope to examine multiple forms of racing, such as endurance racing, which challenges the driver-athlete beyond that of a traditional race.
The purpose of this study was to examine and quantify the effect of repeated driving stints on the physiologic, metabolic, and hormonal responses of three professional endurance driver-athletes.
Core body temperature, HR, and physiological strain index were recorded during the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona endurance race using the Equivital Life Monitor system. Blood glucose was monitored continuously during the event using a FreeStyle Libre Pro (Abbott, Alameda, CA). Alpha-amylase and cortisol were sampled immediately before the beginning of a stint and immediately after.
First-stint overall and individual driver-athlete responses were similar to those reported in the literature. Later-stint responses diverged from the literature. Reductions in initial core temperature, absence of increases in HR and physiological strain index, and altered glucose and hormonal responses were each observed in the later stint.
The data support previous research showing that motorsports has a measurable physiological, metabolic, and hormonal effect on the driver-athlete. This study also shows that multiple stints elicit responses that deviate from the published literature on single-stint events. This study is also particularly interesting in that it represents one of the first times that longitudinal data have been gathered on endurance racing driver-athletes.