Case Study:
PitFit Motorsport

written by Meg Garvey, PhD, Pratik Patel, Victor Adewusi, and Meridith Cass


For motorsport athletes, exposure to very high temperatures during races adds physiological strain and cognitive dysfunction due to an increased risk of dehydration. This study aimed to determine the feasibility of deploying Nix Biosensors as a non-invasive hydration monitoring tool during qualifying races at the 2022 Bommarito 500 with professional motorsports drivers. Sweat rate, electrolyte losses, and sweat concentration were measured using Nix Biosensors in male drivers (n=14, age 27.7 + 8.6 years) participating in practice runs amongst four separate flights in open and closed cockpit cars at a professional racetrack. All sensors were applied and retrieved with minimal disruption to the drivers’ typical race routines. All drivers indicated the sensors were barely noticeable and articulated interest in further product use. The average fluid and electrolyte losses were 15.0 + 5.3 oz and 695.7 + 329.1 mg, respectively.  The average sweat rate was 17.6 + 5.6 oz/hr, with a 47.1 + 13.5 mg/oz concentration. Fluid loss, sweat rate, total electrolytes lost, and electrolyte concentration varied among drivers, particularly in different events; however, due to a small sample size, no statistically significant differences were observed. Although more research is needed, measuring individual sweat rate and concentration with Nix Biosensors can provide valuable information to create personal hydration recommendations.


Motor-racing drivers driving in artificially heated environments expose them to unique environmental stressors. These can directly impact the physiological responses of these drivers, such as increases in core and skin temperatures, heart rate, physiological strain index (PSI), rate of perceived exertion (RPE), and driver’s perception of thermal sensation (1). These effects are often felt at varying magnitudes based on individual physiology and state of fitness/wellness and could influence driving performance due to mental stress and fatigue.  

While temperatures on the track can typically range from 122°F to 149°F, temperatures of up to 180°F have been recorded, causing interior cabin surface temperatures to exceed well over 100°F (2, 3, 4).  Race surfaces accumulate heat by absorbing sunlight contributing to the total heat load drivers face inside the car by increasing ambient temperatures (2). In addition to their external environment, drivers dawn layers of protective clothing required for safety, which interfere with heat loss. Various car models can further acerbate the risk of dehydration. Drivers racing in closed-cockpit vs. open-cockpit cars exhibit higher skin and core temperatures and increased PSI (5).

Research indicates that while some drivers can lose around 1% of their body weight in a single race, adding additional layers of protective clothing could bring that number over 3% at higher temperatures (6). To mitigate the risk of increased heat exposure and dehydration, drivers implement a variety of strategies, from cooling suits to heat acclimatization protocols. Due to these varying fluid losses, proper hydration strategies are paramount for driver success, especially in a sport where every second counts. Flexible, data-driven hydration strategies that account for individual physiological variabilities, personal preferences, sport-dictated rules, regulations, and the unique specifications of different car series are imperative. 

This study aimed to determine the feasibility of deploying Nix Biosensors as areal-time hydration monitoring tool during qualifying races at the 2022 Bommarito 500 with professional motorsports drivers.

Research Objectives

The primary objectives for this study were as follows: 

  • What is the feasibility of utilizing Nix Biosensors for sweat testing and hydration monitoring in a motorsport setting?
  • Is the sensor a practical solution to supporting this population’s hydration strategy in the field?
  • What is/are the appropriate anatomical sensor placement(s) based on this population?
  • Does the sensor produce usable data for this population?

Study Design & Methods

Based on the study objectives, a simple data collection protocol was derived based on the location and duration of the qualifying races. 

Data were collected from seventeen motor car drivers in four race class categories.  Each driver consented to participate in the study before data collection.  Before each scheduled practice run, a Nix Biosensor was activated and placed on the left bicep of each driver.  The only deviation from this sensor location was with a veteran driver who indicated that the seat would impede the bicep location. For him, a dorsal forearm location was utilized. To determine the duration of wear, the time of activation, application, and removal were all recorded.  Ambient temperature, humidity, and on-track temperatures were recorded for each practice session.

Data & Results

Data Collection at the World Wide Technology Racetrack, St. Louis, MO, during the qualifying runs at the Bommarito 500.

  • The ambient temp was 86°F with 43% humidity, whereas the temperature on the track was as high as 121.60°F with a Nix Index of 100 (7.4 – 42.8 oz) throughout practice.
  • Data was successfully obtained from 14 of the 17 drivers, resulting in an all-male cohort
  • 100% of the drivers noted that they didn’t notice the sensor
  • 100% of drivers want to be part of this in the future
  • The sensor stayed in place while one driver experienced a crash

Findings summary: 

  • Fluid loss sweat rate, total electrolytes lost, and electrolyte concentration were different amongst drivers and between flights
  • The mean fluid loss was 15.0 oz (with a range between 8.69 - 25.16 oz)
  • The mean electrolyte loss was 695.7 mg (with a range between 316.3 – 1315.2 mg)

The average duration of sensor wear time was 52.3 min + 13.6 (with a range between 28.3 – 75 min)

Nix Hydration Assessment

Due to the data collection with motocross drivers under PitFit’s training, the Pitfit team can start to understand the variation of sweat rates and electrolyte losses between individual driving athletes and events. The findings of this study articulate the need for individual rehydration strategies.  

The drivers experienced temperatures on the track that were 35.6°F higher than the ambient temperature.

In Figure 1 - the mean electrolyte losses are compared by flight. Each flight included at least two drivers, whereas the Indy Car data had eight. For Indy Pro (479 - 480 mg) and Indy Car (285 - 948 mg) drivers, variances were minimal compared to Indy Lights (401 - 1315 mg) and Indy Crown (747 - 1309 mg) races. No statistically significant difference exists between the electrolyte losses by flight (p = 0.3).

In Figure 2 - The average sweat loss during a race was 15.0 oz (+ 5.3). Although variances are shown between athlete and by flight, more data is needed to determine whether there is a statistical difference between the flights. It is important to note that athlete 345 wore a cooling vest during their race. These drivers experienced roughly a 1% (0.7%) body mass loss of fluid in a single race, consistent with the literature.

In Figure 3 - The average sweat concentration is 47.1 mg/oz (+ 13.5), with flight means of 53.8 mg/oz, 42.4 mg/oz, 48.8 mg/oz, and 56.7 mg/oz, respectively. While individual athlete variances are observed, there were no statistical differences between flights. More research is needed to investigate trends suggested by this data.


Findings determined that sweat rates varied between drivers as well as between flights, although the limited sample population may be driving results that indicate no statistical differences between the flights. As mentioned previously, there are several physiological and environmental differences between these flights and drivers: open vs. closed cabin space, varying levels of protective equipment, heat acclimation training, and body temperature mitigation factors such as cooling vests. Another element would be the hydration strategies of the individual athletes. When asked about current protocols, many drivers didn’t have specific strategies or plans pre/during/post-event. In contrast, others had some hydration routines that were not strictly adhered to and depended greatly on the available beverages.  Upon observation, the drivers had plenty of access to water; however, the accessibility of electrolyte beverages appeared limited.  

Subjectively, many of the drivers indicated that this race was more pleasant in terms of temperature and humidity than their other races. A hypothesis worth further investigation would be the magnitude differences at races in hotter/more humid conditions and longer durations.  

The Nix Biosensor successfully produced usable data in over 80% of the volunteer athletes. This number was impacted by one specific flight with a more restrictive seat. A veteran driver indicated as we were placing on the pod that it was likely to fall off due to the bicep position, so his sensor was placed on the forearm with success. One other driver in that flight, who had a smaller body build, received data successfully at the bicep; however, all other drivers in that flight experienced significant peeling due to the sensor location’s interaction with the seat and were eliminated from the analysis. The sensor also remained intact after the driver wearing it was involved in a crash. Based on these findings, the Nix Biosensor is a feasible and non-invasive method of monitoring in-race hydration status. The Nix Biosensor produced actionable data for both the athlete and their team. This data can be utilized to build future hydration strategies/protocols and modifications during race day. 


Each race poses a unique challenge regarding hydration strategy building and during-race-day modifications for motorsports drivers. Car type, engineering, rules, and regulations of specific series will affect hydration requirements highlighting the need for consistent and individualized hydration monitoring and sweat testing. Based on our findings, we can determine that Nix Biosensors is a practical solution for managing the unique hydration needs of professional motorsports drivers. Adjusting sensor location due to body economy within the Silver Crown car seat, the sensor provided usable data at two different sensor locations (bicep and forearm).

As studies within this athlete population are limited, gaining more insight into the varying influences that could put a driver at an increased risk of dehydration is paramount. In addition, understanding which variances impact an individual athlete the most could be the difference between winning and ending a season. Tailoring heat mitigation techniques, including hydration protocol planning, is an emerging advantage. More research is needed within this sport, including the pit crews, to continue to provide insights to keep the athletes safe and performing at a high level.