December 17, 2014
Lara Carlson, DPE., FACSM, CSCS, associate professor in the Westbrook College of Health Professions and the Center for Excellence in the Neurosciences, recently presented her research as an invited speaker at the International Council of Motorsport Science (ICMS) during the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) 2014 trade show on December 10, 2014, at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis.
Carlson’s presentation, "More Than Just Turning Left: The Physiological Reponses of Driving a Racecar," was presented to medical, scientific and educational professionals concerned with the performance and safety in motorsport.
It has been suggested that motorsport competition may increase heat stress and challenge the cardiovascular system. These effects may add to driver fatigue and possibly lead to catastrophic injury. Carlson previously published the first study that quantified the thermoregulatory and physiological challenges associated with competitive stock car racing. The project was a collaboration with the U. S. Army, as a similar predicament exists with military personnel, such as aviation pilots and soldiers in armored vehicles.
Carlson’s more recent study confirmed that completing physical tasks in elevated cabin (racecar cockpit) temperatures with the addition of protective uniforms, which hinders evaporative cooling, results in increased heat storage, resulting in the impairment of muscle activation and mental alertness as well as increasing the risk of heat illness.
While at the conference, Carlson had the chance to chat with former NASCAR driver Ken Schrader. She stated, "Ken's account of peering into Dale Earnhardt's car after his fatal Daytona 500 crash is forever branded in my mind."
The ICMS promotes research and discussion related to safety and performance in motorsport and disseminates that information to motorsport participants, race team management and the organizing bodies and federations including NASCAR, Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile and Indy Racing League.
The PRI event attracts over 48,000 attendees from over 72 countries and hosts over 3,000 exhibits.