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Foods that fuel – and lots of them – keep the teams running smoothly

WELCOME, N.C. (Feb. 5, 2003) — What do the hardest working men in NASCAR racing — the pit crews — eat prior to a big race?

“A lot,” according to Brett Cumming, Fitness Trainer for Richard Childress Racing (RCR), an eight-time NASCAR championship-winning organization and owner of three NASCAR Winston Cup and two Busch Series racing teams.

In any given week before a race, Cumming’s five pit crews (which total 35 people) consume on average 1500 eggs, 100 pounds of pasta, 1000 containers of sports drinks, and the equivalent of a produce section of a grocery store.

Typical racing fare is consumed not only by pit crews, but by many of RCR’s drivers. Kevin Harvick, who has won Winston Cup races, rookie titles in both the Winston Cup Series and Busch Series and a Busch championship, follows a nutrition regimen consisting of high-energy foods that go the distance. For instance, Harvick’s pre-race breakfasts often include eggs because they are quick to prepare and loaded with protein.

“When pit crews are preparing for a big race, like the upcoming Daytona 500 or when they’re pulling ‘double duty’, where they have races scheduled back to back, we choose foods that pack the biggest punch, and we eat a lot of them,” says Cumming, who also serves on one of the RCR pit crews.

A standard race day menu, according to Cumming, includes the following:

Breakfast – Cumming encourages eggs for each pit crew team member. Eggs contain high quality protein, vitamins and minerals, and are low in calories. Plus, the American Heart Association no longer restricts the number of yolks in the diets of healthy individuals.

Lunch – Lunch is for carbo-loading. The men eat one to two bowls of pasta every day during racing season, often mixed with vegetables. Pasta is a great energy booster because the muscles primarily burn carbohydrates during exercise.

Sports Drinks and Energy Bars- Two sports drinks a day and plenty of water to prevent dehydration and replenish the electrolytes that are lost through sweating, and 20 boxes of nutrition bars.

Fruits and Vegetables – 75 bananas, 60 pears, 100 apples and lots of carrot sticks are consumed as “munchies” throughout each race day.

Dinner – Fish, in lots of varieties. It’s a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids that are good for the heart. The pit crew’s favorites are catfish, followed by salmon, trout and tuna.

“For a pit crew to do all that they need to do in 12 – 14 seconds, they need to be fit and fast, and diet plays a big role in that,” says Cumming.

For more information about NASCAR and Winston Cup racing and “foods that fuel,” log on to www.rcrracing.com