STATESVILLE, N.C. (July 16, 2013) – Next Sunday, the only fuel that will get NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Josh Wise to the finish line will come from within his own body. Normally sitting inside the No. 35 MDS Transport Ford on Sundays, the 30-year-old driver for Front Row Motorsports and triathlete will instead be swimming, cycling and running in his first half Ironman triathlon in Racine, Wis.
Longer than a standard triathlon, the 70.3-mile half Ironman will include a 1.2-mile swim in Lake Michigan, a 56-mile bike course and a 13.1-mile run. The idea of competing in triathlons started in a light-hearted conversation with fellow NASCAR driver Scott Speed.
“Scott got me into road cycling a few years ago, and we started joking about how we were going to add swimming and running and do a triathlon,” Wise said. “And it turned into us actually doing a sprint triathlon last summer. It was a blast.”
Wise has been training for the July 21 event in Racine for about a year. At the most intense part of his training, Wise was swimming five miles, biking 150 miles and running 20 miles per week. In these final days before the race, he will carry a lighter training schedule to allow his body to recover and be in prime condition for Sunday.
Preparing for the Ironman has some similarities to preparing for a Sprint Cup Series race. Last week, Wise took his bike to A2 Wind Tunnel in Mooresville, N.C., to test the aerodynamics of his equipment and his own body positioning in preparation for the cycling segment of the event, much like race teams test their cars.
“That was pretty crazy and I didn’t really know what to expect,” Wise noted. “It was amazing how similar it was to what we do with the race cars. They were very thorough and had a test plan and ran through different configurations with me on the bike. The coolest part was the aero efficiencies that we gained, which just translates to more speed with the same amount of effort from me.”
After running across the finish line in Racine, Wise will have just a couple days rest before heading back on the Sprint Cup circuit for the July 28 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis (Ind.) Motor Speedway. He’ll also have a bigger competition to start training for — a full Ironman triathlon (2.4-mile swim, 110-mile bike and a 26.2-mile marathon) on his calendar for December in Cozumel, Mexico.
“As a race car driver — and I think every athlete probably feels the same way — I try to add competition to everything, so I think that’s why this fell within my wheelhouse,” Wise said. “I’ve always trained really hard to be in good shape in the race car, and this just added a fun element to that for me and goals for me to set.
“It’s been a pretty awesome journey up to this point and I’m pretty excited for next week.”