CONCORD, N.C. – It’s summer, which means temperatures are rising in the state of North Carolina. On the Hendrick Motorsports campus, athletes are training to prepare for the heat on track.
Evan Kureczka, the assistant strength coach at Hendrick Motorsports, prepares members of each pit crew all year long to endure different working environments. In the summer months, the teammates go through heat training to be ready for late afternoon races in the sun.
“My favorite workout would be something more up-tempo with the guys," Kureczka said. “We have traditional weights and lifts but our heat training out on the field is fun. They get competitive with it, and it’s fun to watch.”
Heat training may be the focus in the summer months, but the athletes work all year to perfect the choreography required for a pit stop, which takes plenty of practice and work in the gym.
“A lot of our workouts depend on the guys’ schedule,” Kureczka said. “Usually we will try to get three days a week in. We will have them for an hour to an hour-and-a-half max.”
In order for the pit crews to maintain their athleticism, they rely on persistence. Keeping their bodies in shape so they are prepared for anything on race day is what makes them better.
“Even on the off days, a lot of them will come in and workout on their own, or on the road, they will hit some workouts," the strength coach said.
Through all the training, strength coaches want to be sure they balance the physical demands with nutrition standards and teaching the pit crews to take care of their bodies in order for them to perform at their best.
“Diet and nutrition are important, obviously staying active, but the most important thing that a lot of guys miss out on is rest and recovery,” Kureczka said. “We really push that and put an emphasis on that this year. That’s an area where you can get an advantage on your opponents, I think.”
Throughout the year, Kureczka works to make sure each pit crew member is operating to his full potential. He believes there are simple ways anyone can kickstart a healthier lifestyle, too.
“Trying to make simple choices to eat better,” he offered. “Going for more fresh foods instead of processed and not eating as late at night. Also, just being more active throughout the day. If you have a desk job and you sit all day, try to get up and walk to the bathroom or a water fountain, just being slightly more active to start.”