Brad Brown and WRTV6 Indianapolis stopped by our new facility in Indianapolis to feature Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon’s training programs, and how vital their fitness is for racing in the IndyCar Series.
Led by founder and owner Jim Leo, PitFit Training has become the go-to place in motorsports for driver fitness, reaction, and neurocognitive training. With over 20 years of experience, Leo and the trainers at PitFit create custom programs for professional athletes and race car drivers, responsible for over fifteen drivers in the NTT IndyCar Series and Road to Indy, and many more across Formula One, NASCAR, NHRA, IMSA, SRO America, USAC, and numerous junior level auto racing series. The expansion from the 2,600 square foot building to the new training facility gives the staff at PitFit Training 5,400 square feet of offices and gym space.
“This new facility really opens us up to a whole new world of possibilities,” said Jim Leo, owner of PitFit Training. “We now have separate rooms for physical therapy, mediation, and neurocognitive training, while also massively expanding our physical performance training area as well. We’ve been able to fill our gym with even more cutting edge equipment that will directly benefit the performance of all our drivers and athletes.”
Providing their own cutting edge equipment, Zionsville, Indiana business Fanimation has joined PitFit Training as the new gym’s first partner, equipping the vast facility with top-end ceiling fans. A local family business, Fanimation leverages technology and sustainability to implement energy efficient practices into its products, transforming the fan industry.
“PitFit Training is the industry leader of motorsports-specific human performance training,” said Nathan Frampton, President and CEO of Fanimation. Fanimation is the industry leader in ceiling fans and we couldn’t be more excited to partner with another best-in-class company based in Central Indiana.”
PitFit Training’s new partnership with Fanimation is just the beginning, as the team looks ahead to the installation of new flooring and next phases of construction on the office space.
“We have big plans for our new home,” concluded Leo. “We’re thrilled to have Fanimation on board, and look forward to welcoming more partners as the months continue. In the meantime, we’re fully focused on getting our drivers ready for the biggest race month of the year.”
Two of the most anticipated races of the year, the Freedom 100 and Indianapolis 500 will take place May 24 and 25 respectively. PitFit Training will not only train the drivers on the north side of town at the gym, but will also offer onsite support at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway. For more information, visit pitfit.com.
About PitFit Training
PitFit Training is an industry leader in the development and implementation of motorsports-specific human performance training and lists clients from Formula One, IndyCar, NASCAR, NHRA, ALMS, USAC, the World Endurance Championship and numerous junior level auto racing series. The roster of champions that have become part of the PitFit family is a who’s who of auto racing. Drivers such as Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan are just a few of the many drivers who have trained with PitFit Training.
Source: Car and Driver
Professional auto racing is the Rodney Dangerfield of athletic pursuits—it gets no respect. Many casual observers assume that the car is doing all the work. But behind every rubber-scuffing hot lap is a human body also being pushed to the limit. Temperatures inside the cockpit can reach 130 degrees and most race cars do not have air conditioning. Drivers can lose 5 to 10 pounds in water weight during any given race. And racers must reckon with lateral and longitudinal forces that can go from 3.00 g’s in turns (what an astronaut experiences during a rocket launch) to in excess of 5.00 g’s under braking (blackout territory for the untrained). “And that force,” says veteran IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe, “is applied to every inch of your body.”
In the dark ages of motorsports, before cars produced such cosmic forces, a reasonably fit driver could easily handle a car’s stresses. Hell, he might even have smoked a cigarette between sessions. It wasn’t until guys like Ayrton Senna and Mark Martin came along that their peers saw the impact that fitness could have on driving performance. Now working out is a year-round grind that has drivers fortifying their core, arms, and neck.
It’s not a regimen that drivers can keep up at Planet Fitness. Instead, many frequent places like Indianapolis-based PitFit, a boutique fitness center with a client roster that includes pros like Hinchcliffe and Tony Kanaan. PitFit aims to train a driver’s body and mind at the same time through a mix of strength and endurance drills, some borrowed from more-mainstream sports and adapted to the needs of drivers.
Some teams prefer to keep driver-fitness programs in-house. Two years ago, Ganassi Racing hired former NASCAR pro Josh Wise to develop a training program for its drivers. “A lot of teams shipped their drivers out to run circuits and lift weights with their pit crews, but from an energy standpoint and even a psychological one, there’s little relevance to what they’re doing in the car,” says Wise. Here’s a look at what makes Wise’s regimen or a place like PitFit different from your local gym, with an assist from IndyCar champ Kanaan.
PitFit has a custom $20,000 sensory station created by Senaptec. It takes the old numbered-tennis-ball drill—a staple in baseball training in which the trainer throws a ball at the trainee who calls the ball’s number before catching it—and digitizes it. Here, the drivers are asked to interact with moving images on a screen. Their results are measured, indicating their ability to make quick decisions under pressure.
One of PitFit’s pieces of equipment is the Race Trainer, its homemade steering-resistance machine that is composed of a weighted steering wheel paired with pedals. A light-up board mounted behind the wheel prompts the driver to simulate a turn, which then instructs his trainer to pull on the resistance bands strapped to the athlete’s weighted headgear, called the Iron Neck. This mimics the effects of lateral g’s.
PitFit uses strobe glasses from Senaptec, a company that provides tools to enhance an athlete’s mental and physical performance. PitFit president Jim Leo says the glasses, which intermittently disrupt the wearer’s vision, are often used with a tennis-ball toss, so drivers can practice tracking a moving object while their field of view is compromised.