Carl Edwards' fitness advantage
There are still a lot of people out there who hold on to the misconception that NASCAR drivers are just guys who climb into their cars, floor it and make a lot of left-hand turns. The fact is, these guys are phenomenal athletes whose sport requires incredible strength, endurance and lightning-fast reaction times. To examine and quantify some of the physical gifts required to drive hundreds of miles -- at hundreds of miles per hour -- we brought one of NASCAR's top drivers, Carl Edwards, into the Sport Science lab.
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Carl Edwards is just one of a number of athletes put to the test in the Sport Science lab. Photo Gallery
Then we wore him out. We put him on a stationary bike and put him through an intense workout to measure his aerobic capacity with what's called a VO2MAX test. Edwards' results were amazing -- his cardiovascular fitness is actually on par with elite endurance athletes like marathon runners and cyclists. Then, dripping with sweat, Edwards stepped up to the light grid for a second go at the reaction test. Edwards actually improved his times by 11 hundredths of a second. That's not much -- about a third of the time it takes to blink your eye -- but when drivers are moving at 200 mph, that equates to roughly two car lengths.
I think our testing demonstrates that drivers like Carl Edwards are a lot more than just guys pointing fast cars around in circles. NASCAR drivers are some of the best athletes on the planet, with reaction times, endurance, strength and concentration that rival the best in any sport.
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