Interview with Race Car Driver John Edwards

Jackson resident John Edwards is a full-time driver for BMW. He travels all over the country to drive the fastest, most high-tech cars in the world! On April 11th, 2014 John took second place in the Grand Prix at Long Beach!

Congratulations, John!

Physical and mental fitness is necessary for a competitive driver. John needed a unique training program specific to the demands of auto racing. Wright Training was just what he was looking for!

How did you get into racing? Did you find it, or did it find you?

My dad started racing for fun with a business colleague and I got hooked on watching him race. It started as a father-son activity at first, but I began taking go-karting seriously when I was 11 and moved into cars at the end of the karting season when I was 12. Although I now get to drive for the factory BMW team with multiple tractor-trailers and a lot of engineering support, some of my favorite memories are of my dad and I loading up and working out of our minivan when I was little. We had no idea how to set up a kart, or why we needed more than one set of tires per year, but luckily we found some help along the way and I ended up with some big opportunities.

Where is your home base?

 In January 2014 I moved to Jackson full-time. My schedule keeps me on the road a lot, but I love coming home to the Tetons. I always try to sit on a right-side window seat on the way home so I can see the Grand as we land in Jackson.

How old are you? How long have you been racing?

I turned 23 years old last month. I've been racing since I was 8, so it's been most of my life.

How fast is your top speed?

At Daytona, we hit around 185mph, but that speed on a big open track with a long straight-away is a lot less entertaining than sliding the car around at 90mph.

What types of racing do you do?

I drive sports cars in endurance races for the factory BMW team. Our cars are based on the cars you see on the street, so you can see us racing our BMW against Corvettes, Ferraris, Vipers, and Porsches. The series we race in is called the Tudor United SportsCar Championship.

Why do you need to train to drive a car?  Physically, Mentally.

A lot of people don't realize how physical racing a car can be. The cars we drive have a lot less power steering than a street car, and a lot more grip, which makes the wheel more difficult to turn. The added grip also creates more lateral G forces than most people have ever experienced, especially in a car. A driver's heart rate will be 140-180 during a race, and each driver can run up to 3 hours straight in an endurance race. It takes a toll physically, but also mentally as we're on the limit of the car for the entire time. During a 24-hour race, we drive in shifts, so I might get out of the car at 11 pm and need to rehydrate, rest, eat, and be ready to go again by 5 am, so recovery after long stints is also crucial.

Why did you choose to train with Wright Training over other training methods?

I took a class at Wright Training when I first moved to Jackson full time and I got to speak to Crystal about her training methods. It was clear that she understood I had different goals than some other athletes, particularly staying lean while still building some strength and a lot of endurance. Any private program at Wright Training is going to be designed based on an individual's goals, not copy-pasted from a previous client.

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Which area of your body has to be the strongest?

As a driver, I want some upper body strength to steer the car, but the most important area for me is cardio endurance. It also helps to have a strong core to deal with the constantly changing G forces.

Have you been in any wrecks? Were you injured?

I've had some hard hits, including one flip when I was 13 years old. Although there are injuries sometimes, auto racing is much safer than people assume it is, especially compared to some other sports. When you watch a car disintegrate in a crash, it is doing exactly what it is designed to do.

What is your favorite (or most effective) exercise circuit?

As much as I hate to admit it, I think the most effective days I have in the gym involve work capacity. I didn't even know what AMRAP or RFT stood for before I started training with Crystal but now I dread every time I hear her say it! Doing 10 or 20 minutes when I'm pushing my body's strength and cardio to the max pushes me mentally as much as it does physically, which is exactly the intensity I need to be ready for a race.

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How often do you work out/train?

If I'm home for a full week, I train 3 days at Wright and 3 days on my own. Workouts on my own can be snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or biking/hiking in the summertime.

If there was one food you couldn't give up, what would it be?

I try to watch my weight since I'm tall for a racing driver, but every day that I don't eat ice cream is a struggle (which unfortunately is most days

Do you ski when you're in Jackson?

I do some cross-country skiing during the winter when I'm not in the gym, but I have to be careful to not injure myself since our season lasts most of the year.

Do you have any rivals? Is there someone you really want to beat? Are you super competitive?

I hate losing more than I like winning, so it's never easy to lose races that we're fast enough to win. As far as rivals go, I would say that there are some people I respect more than others. I get more satisfaction out of beating the people I respect than those that I don't.

What is your ideal 'down day.'

I like to stay active when I'm home, but if I take a true day off (no training, no activities) then I can pretty much watch Netflix most of the day. Although it wouldn't be healthy to do that more than once in a while, it's a great recharge between events when I'm traveling a lot.

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