Buyer's Guide: Driver Cooling Systems

By Winding Road Staff

May 21, 2014

Summer temperatures are already upon us in many parts of the country. Out on the track in full race gear, those high temps translate to a whole lot of heat exposure for drivers - especially those participating in endurance events. Adding a driver cooling system to your racecar - which channels cold water through a specially-designed shirt worn by the driver - is a good idea not only because of the increased comfort for the driver, but also because fatigue caused by that heat can reduce one's ability to concentrate, in turn affecting not only lap times but safety as well. Here we'll explain how to go from Point A - no driver cooling system - to Point B - a race-ready system with a cooling shirt. Along the way we'll explain what components you'll need to accomplish this, as well as ways to ensure that your system is compatible with the cooling shirts that the car's driver (or drivers) will be using. All the products discussed here are, of course, available in the Winding Road Racing store:
The three brands of garments we'll be going over here are made CoolShirt, F.A.S.T. and Momo. It's important to note that while CoolShirts are inherently compatible with CoolShirt, F.A.S.T. and Momo cooling boxes, F.A.S.T. and Momo shirts require this adapter to be connected to the garment end of the hose when connected to a CoolShirt box.‚Äč (F.A.S.T. and Momo shirts are cross-compatible between F.A.S.T. and Momo boxes without an adapter, however.)
Momo Advanced Driver Cooling Shirt: Featuring three times the surface area coverage of a tube based system, this shirt uses a bladder-based system that eliminates pressure points, improving mobility and driver comfort. This shirt's fabric is also designed to push moisture away from the skin, helping maximize the shirt's ability to do its job.
This shirt is directly compatible with Momo and F.A.S.T. cooling systems. The universal fitting kit is required for the garment end of the hose when connecting this shirt to a CoolShirt box.
F.A.S.T Cool Suit-Shirt: Featuring a premium grade cotton t-shirt design with over fifty feet of small capillary tubing front and back, the F.A.S.T. design separates cooling capabilities into four equal zones across the shirt.
This shirt is directly compatible with Momo and F.A.S.T. cooling systems. The universal fitting kit is required for the garment end of the hose when connecting this shirt to a CoolShirt box.
CoolShirt Cool Water Shirt: This cotton t-shirt provides adapter-free compatibility with Coolshirt, Momo and F.A.S.T. cooling systems and is available in white or blue color. This shirt is also offered in hooded t-shirt, fire-rated long sleeve, and fire-rated short sleeve variants as well.
CoolShirt 2Cool Water Shirt: Also offering native compatibility between CoolShirt, Momo and F.A.S.T. cooling systems, this shirt also features moisture-wicking material to help keep skin dry. This shirt is also available in both a sleeveless and fire-rated long sleeve design.
CoolShirt 2Cool Water Pants: To truly maximize driver comfort, you can also add these pants to a CoolShirt system for lower body cooling as well. These pants are made from the same moisture-wicking material as the 2Cool line of CoolShirts.
Cooling Systems
Momo ICE Kit - ADC - Advanced Driver Cooling: This 19-quart system includes the cooling box, pump, mounting tray, two cam-buckle nylon straps, power connectors and 240cm of driver connection hose - essentially everything you need to install the cooling system in your racecar. Its connectors are natively compatible with Momo, F.A.S.T. and CoolShirt shirts. The tie-down strap on the Momo box does not extend over the top, making the Momo system perferable for endurance racing where ice changes may need to be executed quickly in the pits.
F.A.S.T. Cool Suit System: This 13-quart system comes complete with the system plumbing and the pump already installed. It also includes the mounting pan, strap and system timer. Compact and light weight, the F.A.S.T. system's connectors are natively compatible with F.A.S.T., Momo and CoolShirt cooling shirts.
CoolShirt Club System All-In-One Kit: Offering a choice between 12-quart and 24-quart sizes and various hose lengths, this system can also be had with a temperature control switch, which allows the driver to regulate his/her temperature much more efficiently and evenly than a simple On/Off switch allows for. This system is natively compatible with CoolShirt shirts, but can be made compatible with all shirts (CoolShirt, Momo and F.A.S.T.) by adding the universal fitting kit.
Replacement and maintenance parts for these cooling systems can be found here.
Self-Contained Systems
Techniche Self-Contained Cooling Vest: Drivers of track-day cars, formula cars or sports racers often do not have sufficient room in the cockpit for the box of a cooling system. Or you may be a driver or instructor who sometimes finds himself/herself in cars owned by others. These drivers can still stay cool with a self-contained cooling system. Self-contained systems consist of a vest that holds mutliple cooling packs front and back -- there is no box or plumbing and no electrical hookup. The cooling packs, which stay cold for up to three hours per use, contain a special fluid that freezes at 58 degrees F. That temperature is more comfortable against the skin than 32 degrees F and also allows quick refreezing by plunging into a cooler between sessions. We've tried these systems and the comfort level is surprisingly good because the "ice" packs conform to your body as they get slushy. 
Shop race cooling systems and driver cooling clothing at Winding Road Racing.