Driver Cooling and Hydration Guide

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Driving a competition car requires intense concentration, involves lots of mental and skilled tasks, many that are second nature. Driving many cars also requires a lot of physical work. Therefore, the ability to stop “heat gain” becomes very important for the competitor to perform at their absolute best. This driver cooling and hydration guide will run through the solutions for keeping the vehicle interior cool and driver hydration which is closely linked to the body’s temperature control. 

The healthy human body maintains its internal temperature around 37°C. Variations, usually of less than 1°C, occur with the time of the day and the amount of physical activity. A change of body temperature of more than 1°C occurs only when external conditions are more than the body’s ability to cope with extreme heat.

If the environment warms-up, the body tends to warm-up as well. The body’s  “thermostat” maintains a constant inner body temperature by pumping more blood to the skin and increasing sweat production. In this way, the body increases the rate of heat loss to balance the extra heat. In a very hot environment, the rate of “heat gain” is more than the rate of “heat loss” and the body temperature begins to rise. A rise in the body temperature will result in :

  1. Loss of concentration and ability to do mental tasks.
  2. Loss of ability to do skilled tasks or heavy work.

Driver Cooling Aids

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Wearable cooling vests, shirts, and even helmet coolers, allow heat taken away from the body regardless of the ambient temperature. There are two types available. The first cools the wearer by flowing coolant around the garment to take the excess heat away. The second type uses PCM ( Phase Change Material ) takes the heat away as the cooling medium changes state from solid to liquid ( like ice turning to water to cool your beverage of choice ! ) 

Cool Shirt

The Cool Shirt uses the flow of cooling water to cool the wearer, the liquid is circulated from either a larger cooler in a hard case or from a smaller bag type system. The water is cooled by ice that is loaded into the Cool Shirt container. The hard case systems can give up to 3 hours or 6 hours cooling depending on the capacity selected. The bag type can give up to 3 hours but being a soft case can easily be fitted in small cockpits. The top of the range cooler also has forced air helmet cooling.

The Cool Shirt Pro Cool R system requires no ice, the unit itself cools the water, very useful if ice is not readily available such as rallies or rally raid events. The pump in the system requires a 12-volt feed but Lithium battery powered systems are available on some models.  An optional flow controller can be added to increase or decrease cooling as required. The Cool Shirts are available as long sleeve tops in either FIA approval or SFI approval, and cotton short sleeve tops for use where approval is not required. Coolshirt also offer helmet cooling solutions with a forced air cooler kit, and interior helmet cooler is available for extremely hot cockpits or climates. 

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The TST cooling vests are a stand-alone cooling solution using Phase Change Material. The cooling medium needs storing at below 22 degrees C for 3-4 hours before use to make ready. ( If needed urgently below 8 degrees C : 30 minutes or Freezer / ice water: 5–10 minute )  The PCM cooling packs will cool once they reach 28 degrees C, skin temperature is normally 32 degrees so they will start working once the body heat activates. The vests can work up to 4 hours in a 45 °C environment, and 90 minutes in a 60 °C heat !

The vests are available in Nomex fireproof material or a non-fireproof material at a lower cost. Hook and loop tabs make them easy and quick to fit over fireproof tops and one size fits all. The cooling pads are fitted in multiple pockets in the vest so can they easily be removed to wash the vest or to exchange for ready to use pads. 

There is a Demon Tweeks branded cooling collar that fits around the neck. This uses a pre chilled pouch and can give up to 30 minutes of cooling. 


The renowned helmet manufacturer offers the Intercooler Type 3 Advanced Helmet Cooling System. This unit ducts cooling air to helmets fitted with forced air ducts. The unit has Carbon Fibre housing  and includes 4 settings on both cooling and blower fittings. Supplied controller and wire loom supplied and 2 insulated hoses 150cm long. Max Airflow is an impressive 750 Litre/min. The head contains a lot of blood vessels close to the skin that can allow quick cooling, but helmet shells are not made from breathable materials. Therefore providing forced cooled air makes this is very effective for very hot environments. 

Useful links:

Coolshirt : product range

TST : product range  

Demon Tweeks cooling collar

Helmet Cooling : Bell cooling system Coolshirt forced air kit Coolshirt Cool a Clava 

Cockpit Cooling Aids 

The car interior can become very warm regardless of the outside temperature, contributing factors can be a heat from panels close to engines or exhausts, and sunlight on large panels stripped of insulation. A lack of sufficient air flow in ( and out ) can also be an issue There are many effective solutions to these issues. 

Improving airflow in and out of the car can be achieved via vents and ducting hose. If the car has no exterior source of cooling air, vents or scoops can be secured to the bodywork or to the window if plastic / Perspex windows are fitted. Roof vents can also be used if allowed. Once the cooling air is brought into the car via the duct / scoop air can be piped to the required area by flexible ducting. This ducting has wire reinforcement that allows the ducting to keep its shape around corners.

The airflow from the outside can often be sufficient to provide cooling air but if not, inline blower fans can allow better faster cooling and more control. The ducting can simply pointed at the driver but dashboard vents will give a neater appearance and will allow fine tuning of the airflow. Some of the vents used to bring air into the car can also be used to vent air from the cockpit.

If areas of the car have panels that get excessively heated by the engine, turbo or exhaust, the heat transfer can be massively reduced by using heat barriers. These can be flexible heat blankets or formable sheet heat shields, some self-adhesive, some allow to use your preferred fixing. Some of these can give noise reduction as an added benefit. Many components such as exhausts creating the heat can be covered by heat management products. These are covered in the following blog in depth. The blog also covers the heat blankets and shields mentioned above.  

Useful links : 

Air Ducts range 

Ducting hose & accessories 

Dashboard vents

Blower fans range 

Heat management products 

Driver Hydration 

Getting dehydrated can affect the competitor’s concentration, bring increased tiredness, and reduce control of body temperature. Therefore, it is important to keep hydration levels to the optimum. 

Competitor drinks systems can be a simple bottle with a straw type feed pipe through to a sophisticated electrically pumped system. The various types are as follows:


This drink system includes an alloy bottle and drinks tube that includes a bite valve that means the water only flows when required. A simple but cost-effective system. 


Their system comes with a drinks bag and simply fixes to the seat via heavy duty Velcro. The bag is insulated to keep chilled drink or water cold. A bite valve only allows flow when required. 


A comprehensive kit that included the bottle, alloy bottle holder, cage clamp and hose with bite tube. A handle allows quick removal of the bottle for driver changes etc. Spare bottles and pipes available. 

Dimension 3D

This kit bring technology to drinks system. The kit features a built in 12v pump to supply fluid to the driver at the push of a button and connections to the helmet are via a roll cage mounted quick disconnect system with a pull handle for quick and easy driver changes. The connector comprises of one part which remains attached to the car and a 2nd part connects to this  and feeds the helmet via the drink tube.  The connector can also take a quick release electrical connectors for radio wiring. 1, 2 or 3 driver systems are available with different colour drink bottle for the multi driver versions. 

The drink is supplied to the driver through food grade, odourless tubing which is fed via a built in 12v pump. To operate the pump a ‘Knitter’ F1 type push button is supplied. The drinks bottle is a Sigg aluminium type with a 1 litre capacity and is supplied with a quick release connector and a screw cap for when the bottle is not connected. Spare parts are available if you want to expand the system to more drivers. 

Useful links:

Hydrorace range 

Sparco drink system

Longacre drink system  

Dimension 3D system & accessories 

We hope you find this driver cooling and hydration guide guide useful and as always if you need any extra information, please do not hesitate to contact us by phone or e-mail. 

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