A glimpse into the role of a Physiotherapist at the gruelling Bathurst 12 Hour Race.
On the first weekend of February 2023, our Head Physiotherapist, Sam, attended the 2023 Bathurst 12 Hour Race as part of the Volante Rosso Team. Sam describes the weekend as one that “he wont forget anytime soon”. From the 7 hours of sleep across 3 nights, to the roaring sound of 20 cars around Mount Panorama as the sun rose. He explains the sheer adrenaline he ran on for the entire weekend…
The Volante Rosso team put on a thrilling show at Mount Panorama as they raced two sleek Mercedes AMG’s, with 3 and 4 drivers respectively, passionately cheered on by a 20-man crew. The drivers pushed the limits of their cars, and themselves, to create a memorable experience for everyone involved.
The physio treatment in motor sports differs from that of Sam’s usual Rugby game days with “not nearly as much taping, which was great”. For drivers, the physical preparation and injuries look a bit different, too. Driving a race car at 250-300 km/h takes its toll on the body with the main issues of concern for drivers being the neck, shoulders and back due to the driving position and force placed on their bodies. The drivers experience a lot of fatigue through the calves, particularly the left leg. This is due to the pressure being applied to the brake before a corner. It is “equivalent of doing an 80kg calf raise!” Sam explains.
In addition to his responsibilities as a Physio for the team, Sam was also involved with the hydration and nutrition preparation, warm up and cool down routines, and providing some sports psychology advice. He even went the extra mile, and laughed as he states that he went “completely out of my lane and got my hands dirty on the car when I was needed”.
When speaking about the biggest challenge of the weekend, Sam explains it was most definitely working on a lack of sleep. In the gruelling world of motorsport, apart from the lap times, working on a race car is time consuming and very precise. Every touch of the wall requires the car to be brought back into the pits and checked to make sure everything is in line – which takes hours! Sam explains that “in the 3 nights in the lead up to the race the crew and I each had a total of 7 hours of sleep. On the eve of the race, we went to bed at 1:30am and woke at 2:45am to be atthe track by 3am for a 5am start. By the time we had finished the race and packed up it was 12am the following day”.
During endurance racing, hydration is such a crucial aspect for drivers. Cabin temperatures can exceed 50 degrees! These extreme temperatures, combined with the race suit they wear, causes the drivers to lose roughly 1.1-1.2L of fluid per hour in the car. The drivers carry only 500-700ml of water in the car, so by the end of a 2 hour stint a driver would be needing to replenish a lot of fluid. Sam and the team would work hard to ensure drivers would promptly rehydrate once their session was complete.
It was an amazing weekend at Bathurst and PhysioWard is so thankful to have been involved in such a big way. Sam explains “being able to witness the sheer thrill of motorsport first-hand, while helping athletes to stay in their best physical condition was very rewarding. The atmosphere was electric and the energy of the competitors, the support staff and the fans were simply infectious. It was truly a memorable weekend and I’m already looking forward to the next one.”
A big congratulations goes to the entire Volante Rosso team for their efforts over the weekend.
From Mount Panorama, PhysioWard signs out!