How to stay hydrated when it's hot enough in your car to melt the soles of your racing boots.
We don't talk about it a lot, but there are quite a few race drivers in the PH community. 2016 British Rally Champion Elfyn Evans drinks PH, as does F1's Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing. But David Higgins (who also won the British Rally Championship and also has eight Rally America Championships to his name) has probably been drinking PH behind the wheel longer than anyone. Sometimes it's just essential to drink and drive...
You hold the record for the Mount Washington Hill Climb and you're racing it again this year, can you tell us a bit about the event and why it's so special
Well, it's one of the longest standing motorsport events and the hill is a massive challenge, it's got gravel, tarmac bumps and lots of off camber sections, which makes it impossible to have a perfect car set up.
This year will be very difficult with no co-drivers and much faster cars, although the weather can pose the biggest challenge, as very often there can be little to no visibility when you get higher up the mountain!
How much do you study a track before an event? How much time are you allowed on the course before the big day?
I spent a few days up there couple of weeks ago doing over 300km trying to spot landmarks in places, where the flow of the road changes, etc. I have also studied my previous onboard footage over 200 times. I will test the car on a race track a week or so before the event and then I will go to the road again to drive it again as much as possible.
How's your season been going so far?
It's been very good, we've won 3 from the 4 events so far. Not winning the one event still hurts...😡😡
We know how you stay hydrated in the car, but how do you stay fuelled? What's the one nutrition item the team always pack for you?
Getting the right food on events is tricky as catering is based around the full team, and its safe to say the technicians want different things to us! I always make sure we have plenty of fish/chicken and salad but always pretty go pretty bland for race day. And it's always washed down with my PH 250.
Last time we spoke you said you really wanted to do a 24 hour MTB race at some point, how's the biking going?
This year I have not had chance to enter any events but I hope once the main part of my the season finishes in August I can look into an event later in year. Does the PH community have any suggestions?! I do love to get out and ride and always have a bike in the race truck.
Your kids Lissy and Matt are both into karting, is it difficult watching them race at all? Do you ever worry for their safety? Would you want the kids to go the full distance?
I just want the best for my kids and don't want to push them into anything, they both do very well at school and Matthew is also very good at football. It's great seeing their passion for driving and they're both well ahead of what they should be doing at their age. I put a lot of time into their racing and love every bit of it, although I'm way more stressed watching them than when driving myself...
What's the most important thing it takes to become a pro rally driver?
I think it's no different to being a pro on any sport really, first you need to really want it. That means not quitting when you have a big hurdle, if you want anything bad enough you will make it happen. You also need a degree of selfishness to be able to focus on your end goal. Being a little nuts also helps for the driving part!
You've got the New England Forest Rally a couple of weeks after Mount Washington, how hard is it to have back to back events so close together?
It's almost easier as you stay in the event rhythm, it can be tough though if one event goes bad, as there's not so much time to re-group.
New England is a hot one, will you do anything differently in terms of prep, hydration etc to ensure you maintain your performance?
I am lucky that a few years ago I found you guys, since then my hydration is straightforward. Because of my low sweat sodium losses, PH 250 is my go-to drink on a daily basis and I step up to PH 500 during races, especially in hotter climates. I tend to have a 500 with my food during the service breaks during a stage. I’ve found the SweatSalt capsules a really useful addition to my hydration plan, again especially in hot environments where water bottles tend to be handed out on the course. I can’t always keep perfect track of my fluid intake and I’ve found the capsules useful when I’m running low of fluids.
That's another PH stripe trucker we'll be seeing on podiums then...
I experienced what it’s like to get hydration wrong last year when biking in high altitude in Utah; I didn’t have my PH with me and I drank something else and didn’t feel great. Luckily someone gave me a salt capsule and things improved, so I was delighted when you guys brought out the SweatSalts.
I do however drink less coffee leading up to hot events. And if I do have a coffee it has to have bottle of water coming after it.
I also make sure I do my training at a hotter part of UK day to get used to it. I also believe that you can control how you cope in heat mentality, as soon as you think you're hot, it's harder to control it. In the car it's often hot enough to melt the soles of race boots, in 3 layer suits with fireproof underwear and very little airflow it can be hard, people often laugh at me when I go to spin class and wear a hoodie...
Fireproof underwear, where might one find that then? No comment, ok fine. Thanks David, best of luck with the rest of the season, though it sounds like it's the other drivers that need a spot of luck...
You can read our previous chat with David - with more insight into his training, nutrition and hydration strategy - here.