“Do I get anxious because of that? Do I get anxious because I’ve been running 200 mph and now all of a sudden I’ve got to stop and wait, and I’m in anticipation of getting going again? I think it’s a little bit of everything — giving control over to the guys. And it’s all high anxiety — ’Get this right, get this right. Don’t make any mistakes.”’
There also is great risk of heat stress. Drivers sit in a hot cockpit and wear three-layer, fire-retardant driving suits, gloves, boots and helmets, plus fire-resistant underwear. That leaves little skin surface exposed to the environment, thus drastically reducing the body’s ability to dissipate heat.
“Racing on a really hot day with high track temperatures and high in-car temperatures puts stress on the body and increases metabolic demands,” said Steve Olvey, former medical director for CART and now chief medical officer for Grand Prix Masters, an international series for drivers over 45 who competed in Formula One for at least two years.
“Anything that does that is likely to increase heart rate. How high it goes depends on age and how good a shape you’re in. A driver who is more than 40 and out of shape and competing in a competitive series on a really hot day is at risk for some type of cardiovascular problem like a heart attack. I would expect them to have abnormally high heart rates as a result. It behooves all drivers to be in as good a physical condition as they can.”
“If I had chest pains, I wouldn’t race,” said Muldoon, who doesn’t exercise and smokes, though he’s down to half a pack of cigarettes a day. “I wouldn’t want to hurt anybody else. If you’re not 100 percent, there’s no reason to be in the car, especially at the speeds we’re going.”