IndyCar driver visits Wright-Patt science lab

Local News

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio (WDTN) – The Indianapolis 500 is this Sunday, seen on WDTN, and for the second year in a row, Conor Daly will drive the number 25 car, sponsored by the US Air Force.

On Tuesday he visited Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to learn more about the science and technology that goes into driving.

IndyCar driver Conor Daly says some people might be surprised at how physically demanding racing is. Some of the people not surprised work at the Strong Lab at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Daly says, “You’re pulling three or four or five, and sometimes in the short ovals we’re at six Gs every lap.”

A little edge makes a big difference. Doctors and technicians at the Strong Lab are working to maximize every physical and mental performance they can.

Dr. Adam Strang is the lab’s director. He says, “What I’m hoping to be able to do is start to use these prediction algorithms and automation to deliver customized fitness programs to people.”

While the lab’s goal is to optimize the US fighting force, the similarities between fighter jet pilots and IndyCar drivers makes their research invaluable to racers trying to save fractions of a second.

Conor Daly says, “There’s been data where drivers have burned literally 6,000 calories in two hours. Our heart rate is on average between 168 to 175 bpm for three hours.”

Conor says he lost 11 pounds during last year’s race, which lasted roughly two-and-a-half hours. “I train alongside NFL players, NBA players, Olympic athletes. Guys and girls that are doing stuff at a very high-level, and we’re all learning about how we train for our own sports.”

Dr. Strang says one day this technology could help everyone. “We’re going to be able to not just reach our elite populations, which we’re doing a pretty good job serving now, like our special operators and our pilots, our tier-one assets. But we’re going to be able to take this technology and make it applicable to the masses.”

Conor’s fascination with data and testing from his father, also a driver in the early 70s and 80s.

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