The “IZOD IndyCar Series” kicks off this Sunday and ready to start his engine is former “Dancing with the Stars” champ, Helio Castroneves. The 3 time “Indy500” champ reveals to “Healthy Hollywood;” competing on the dancing reality show is comparable to race car driving.
“I was really surprised at how similar they are. Both are very technical and physically demanding. In racing, just like in dancing, you have exact spots where you have to do things to be successful; whether it’s apexing a turn or planting your heel. I work out almost every day at home but have never been as sore as I was after practicing dancing for eight hours a day.”
Getting ready for his first of 19 races over 30 weeks, Helio says race car driving is a lot more physically demanding than people would expect. “People don’t realize how hard it is to drive an “IndyCar,” you have to be in the best shape possible to be able to compete at the top. It is a full body workout for two hours and by the end of the race you’re exhausted. You can always tell which drivers are in the best shape because they are the ones competing at the end, while the tired guys fade to the back.”
Helio reveals he does a lot of core and cardio conditioning to compete at the top level. Race car drivers need to control a car without power steering for more than 2 hours, running at speeds in excess of 225 mph. “My heart rate is around 140 - 180 beats per minute for an entire two hour race, so it is important my heart is very strong. The core exercises are important because I need to be able to stay in control while under high g-forces over and over; some races have more than 1,500 turns.”
And of course there’s the intense mental focus, Helio adds “The biggest thing is not to get too worked up. I am a high-energy person and it may look like I am going crazy while in the car, but I am actually very calm so I can make quick decisions. The calmer I am, the more I am able to see what is around me and not let my emotions affect my decisions.”
-- Terri MacLeod