Calculated Risk. This is the phrase that professional athletes, including race car drivers, use every time they go to scale a mountain or get behind the wheel because that is exactly what lies ahead — a calculated risk. Most people are entertained by professional car racing, but don’t take into account how these drivers are putting their lives at risk for every race around the track.
Take a calculated risk with us at Racing Adventures! Our local racing school prepares you on and off the track for the safest, most exhilarating sports car racing experience around. Not only will you learn from professionals in the industry, you’ll know exactly what to do to stay safe on the race track. Follow along in today’s post as we look at the safety risks professional race car drivers face every time they get behind the wheel.
Car Racing in a New Era
Being a professional race car driver has become exponentially safer in the last decades with the innovation and development of new safety features. In fact, there hasn’t been a driver fatality since Dale Earnhardt in 2001, so what makes car racing so dangerous?
There are many factors that make it dangerous, but below are a couple of examples beyond a car crash.
Toxic Fume Inhalation
Drivers and those in the crew are exposed to an abundance of toxic fumes, including burning rubber, gasoline, and second-hand cigarette smoke. Breathing these fumes day in and day out not only takes a toll on your respiratory system, it could put you at a greater risk for cancer; though, no documentation has been recorded (but it’d be great study).
Referencing the above, a lot of the pit crew tend to smoke…around the cars. While this is a rarity, it’s worth mentioning because smoking in the pit happens more than it should!
Car races are extremely loud and can rival a rock concert! Racing puts a driver at risk for serious hearing loss if they forego earplugs; although, it’s common practice these days for drivers and crews to wear them. But, it’s the long-term exposure that puts them at the greatest risk.
It’s no secret that the cars, and the drivers in them, get extremely hot. Combined with long races and constantly perspiring drivers with little to no water breaks available, it easily leads to dehydration. Drivers have even been known to get blood clots that keep them from racing for up to six months at a time.
Substance Abuse Issues
NASCAR has strict illegal substances policies, yet continually puts out press releases of drivers and crew members who violate their policy, so it’s very prevalent in the industry. The sport is extremely stressful both mentally and physically, and the season is grueling — over 10 months a year — that one could only understand the increased risk for substance abuse as a professional race car driver.
While crashes are what most people think of when recalling the dangers of race car driving, factors, such as fume inhalation, explosions, hearing damage, dehydration, and substance abuse issues, are all great health risks for those behind the wheel.