Heat Tests Driver Endurance

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Mix temperatures in the mid-90s with high humidity and even a sprint race may prove to be a test of endurance for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 teams.

Troy Flis of the Spirit of Daytona explained that pre-event preparation is a key for the No. 09 Porsche Coyote driven by Marc-Antoine Camirand and Guy Cosmo.

"The biggest thing we can do is try to keep the heat down," Flis said. "We look at blocking up all the holes coming from the motor compartment, anything that can transfer heat. We also run a lot of insulation and shielding, whatever we can do to drop the heat for the drivers is the first thing.

"The second thing is that we do everything we can to try to keep the driver cool. We use the Crawford brink bottle system, where each driver has own bottle so they can have cool liquids during the race. We also run the Fresh Air Systems Fast Cool Suit, which is now redesigned with a cube of ice that goes on the top and circulates water that goes around the outside it through a cool vest that the drivers wear.

"We also use ducting from the front of the car that forces ambient air into the car, trying to make the driver compartment a pressurized zone, not a depressurized zone that doesn't allow hot air into the car and keeps more pressure to push out air out of there. Those are the main things we want to do. Keeping the driver hydrated is the biggest thing."

Flis said that normally, a block of ice lasts about three hours, but at events like the Porsche 250 presented by Bradley Arant at Barber Motorsports Park last July - since the team used the system more - it might last only half that time. However, the system has been redesigned where a block of ice is attached to the lid of the in-car cooler, making it easy to change it out.

"What we do, if we have a yellow during the race we'll change it out with another block," Flis said. "We can change that quickly, you literally change the lid and the lid has everything contained in it."

Keeping cool is also a concern for pit crews. Flis said that the team will run several fans behind pit wall as well as making sure the crewmen remain hydrated. However, a key is the team's on track performance.

"When the car gets off course and we get behind, the guys have to work harder in the pits," Flis said.

Riley-Matthews takes a different approach to the heat, using an inflatable awning provided by Big Fog. Team managed Ken Swan explained that the system is advantageous for a number of reasons.

"Not only is it about 10 degrees cooler under the awning, but it goes up in about five minutes instead of the usual 45," Swan explained. "One of our sponsors, Big Fog, wanted an awning that would go up a lot quicker, so we went with an inflatable one. It's the same price, and you really can't beat it."

Swan said that the team looses a little working space with the new setup, "but it's more space than we would have in a garage. And no one's punctured it yet, although we can quickly fix it if they do."

Big Fog works with misting systems in the National Football League and at collegiate events, and began working with Riley Matthews three years ago at Daytona when they provided misting fans.

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