As you can imagine, this change in blood flow has several effects on the body, and none of them are exactly good for driving a racecar. During this time you will fatigue much more quickly than a driver that is cooler, your reaction time can be slowed, and your ability to make good decisions quickly will be impeded.

So you can see why finding a way to keep your cool is not only about personal comfort, but can actually result in higher finishes, fewer wrecks and greater safety on the racetrack. It's not being a sissy to make an effort to keep from sweating buckets at every race, it's searching for a competitive advantage just like the chassis setup you've worked sohard to perfect.

With that in mind, CIRCLE TRACK has put together a few ideas to help you keep your cool behind the wheel. Of course, you should also consider the obvious solution such as ducting some outside air to blow on your chest and possibly even a blower to provide a fresh supply of air inside your helmet. But these ideas can also help give you that edge you've been searching for.

We've already mentioned Cool Shirt's Rich Shafer and the work he's done trying to understand just how the body reacts to excess heat and the ways it gets rid of it. And his product, the Cool Shirt, is the result of his extensive research and testing on the best way to help get rid of excess heat. The Cool Shirt works by integrating surgical-grade tubing into a shirt that you wear underneath your driver's suit. A small electric pump pushes water from a cooler through the tubing to pull heat away from your body. The shirt doesn't freeze you because the water is only at 45 to 60 degrees, but it does an incredible job of cooling you because the shirt covers 30 to 40 percent of your skin's surface area and cool water transfers heat 28 times faster than air.

Shafer says that the Cool Shirt not only reduces overheating, but because perspiration is decreased you also run less risk of dehydration. The cooler can easily be strapped down inside your car so it isn't bouncing around, and the weight penalty isn't bothersome at all.

Last year, Sparco USA introduced its X-Cool line of products. At the time they were used mainly by Champ Car drivers, but now the line is growing for products aimed at Saturday night racers. X-Cool is a treatment that is added to a garment. In Sparco's words it "...is a chemical treatment applied to the fabric consisting of microcapsules that are liberated as temperature rises. The molecules move in a direction away from the heat source (the body) which contributes to lowering the body temperature. This active ingredient also contains an essence of menthol which is released as the molecules move."

In plain English, when your body heat elevates, the molecules in the X-Cool treatment activate and try to move away from the heat. Somehow (and we will leave that to the chemists) it has a cooling effect, and apparently, it works. "The feedback we got back from the IRL and Champ Car drivers after last season has really been excellent," says Sparco USA's Warren Caswell. "We are now applying it to our super light, breathable underwear as well as the inner liner of some of our driving suits, and when you combine them the effect really is strong."

Because it is a chemical treatment, the X-Cool will wear off after 15 to 20 washings, but Sparco is introducing a re-treatment kit this year that will allow you to re-treat your garments. Caswell says that the re-treatment process will be simple so that anyone can do it themselves at home and very cost effective. When asked if the re-treatment kit would work with non-Sparco pieces of gear, Caswell said he wasn't sure but did say that the more breathable the fabric, the better the X-Cool treatment would work.