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Indy training facility molds drivers into champions

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – When you open the doors to PitFit Training you’ll see weight racks, resistance bands, treadmills among other strength and cardio equipment.

You’ll also see some of the best race car drivers in the country. It’s the second home of elite athletes such as Felix Rosenqvist and Tony Kanaan. The place is also the most sought-after training facility in motorsports.

Jim Leo founded the company twenty years ago with one goal in mind: to transform racing pros into the best drivers possible.

“Our system changes throughout the season. We get them in after the season for a little recovery and recuperation,” Leo said. “And then the preseason starts building as [the season] gets closer and then right before the season starts, the training changes a little more. And then we go to an in-season cycle. The idea is to basically optimize their energy levels in the race car and be as efficient as possible.”

But this doesn’t just involve physical training. There’s far more to it than just cardio and weighting training.

In the far right corner of the facility is a 36-by-48 wooden board with strategically placed, round, blinking lights spaced about 16 inches apart. They look like colorful glowing buttons.

Athletes start the game by pushing the one in the middle. Let’s say that color is blue. The goal is to tap each button that follows — but only the blue ones — as fast as possible while other colored lights flashing in the player’s face.

However, it’s not a game. It’s the edge drivers get when they train under the coaches at PitFit. The mechanism is called neurocircuitry. It involves wiring one’s brain to react in a fraction of a second.

Former Indy 500 champion Tony Kanaan credits neurocircuitry for his successful career that’s spanned over two decades.

“We don’t drive the race cars everyday,” Kanaan said. “We do that 17 times a year, 20 times a year. Here, what they’re trying to do is get us better in the race car without driving the race car.”

This is critical, Leo says, because if a driver makes a mistake on the track, the repercussions are huge.

“They have to make these decisions that affect not just their performance, but those around them,” he says. “So by combining all of these things together, you develop a program that is very unique and specific to the sport.”

Kanaan and others have done the work. Thanks to Leo and his team, they are ready for Sunday’s race.

Best of luck to all of you.