INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – In a sport that comes down to a matter of milliseconds, drivers look for any advantage to put themselves in a position to win.
For Graham Rahal, that means turning to the science of sweating.
“It’s basically where we collect a sample of their sweat and analyze the electrolytes they’re losing. The main loss is sodium. Some may sweat out anywhere from 100 milligrams a liter to 3,000 milligrams a liter,” said Lindsay Langford, sports dietitian at St. Vincent Sports Performance.
The process is simple. A weigh-in before track activity. Graham then wears a special band that collects sweat during practice time. Then after, Langford collects the sweat sample, analyzes it and does a final weigh-in.
“The weigh-in, weigh-out, all that process is just the next step in knowing my hydration plan, knowing just from a caloric standpoint what I need to eat, what’s good for me, what’s not,” Rahal said.
“If we enter a race dehydrated, first off, muscle saturation. Our muscles are 75 percent water, so we need them fully saturated and working properly. Also for cognitive functioning. There’s precise, precision, and just focus behind the wheel. So being able to think clearly, headaches that may occur. A lot of dehydration as they’re losing upwards of 10 pounds in a car due to sweat,” Langford said.
So does this actually work?
“I feel like I’m probably in the best shape I’ve been in years and years and years. Lindsay says I’d benefit from having a hydration plan,” Rahal said.
“I feel like this is still new. It’s very new to the world of sports nutrition. It’s definitely new to the world of IndyCar. So, I think they’re intrigued by it. But, I think when they get a customized plan and they’re really able to follow it, they’ll start to feel a benefit,” Langford said.
For Graham, that benefit could be a trip to Victory Circle after winning the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500.
The race will be May 27.