Anyone who has ever spent time in a car during the summer months without an air conditioner knows how hot it can get. 

For a NASCAR driver, the “air conditioner” is an air hose blowing into the helmet.  The drivers equate spending time in a car during a race to closing all of the windows and turning up the heat for four hours.  Along with a full face helmet, the drivers wear heavy gloves, fire retardant undergarments, and a full fire suit to protect them. 

During the summer months air temperatures at a track are often in the nineties with track temperatures well over 100 degrees; inside the cars the temperatures often reach 130 to 140 degrees, which can literally cook the drivers.

Over the past few weekends, several of the drivers have had to receive attention from the infield care center after the completion of a race due to overheating issues.

In response to the overheating issues NASCAR has made an adjustment to the cars.  Normally, a car must have a sealed window on the right hand side of the car and a window net on the left hand – driver’s side.  NASCAR has mandated that beginning this weekend at Dover, the teams may remove most – two-thirds – of the right side window and allow air to flow into the car.  However, the air coming into the car is ambient air and still very hot.

Several hundred miles north of Daytona, temperatures at Dover should be several degrees cooler this weekend and less of a strain on the drivers.

While Dover is a trial, the real test will be when the teams take to the tracks at Darlington and Richmond.

NASCAR noted that they are looking at the issue; but also noted that the teams look for every aerodynamic advantage they can get and often driver comfort is at the bottom of the list.  A few drivers have turned to using a cool suit under their fire suits but it requires the engineers to build an engine that can handle the extra power.