After racking up a huge number of podium finishes in the last two years, 24yr old Dutch racing driver Stéphane Kox has established herself as a future star of motor sports.
Daughter of the legendary driver Peter Kox, Stéphane has been following in his footsteps, whilst juggling studying for a law degree. We had a few moments to chat to Stéphane over the weekend to find out how she fuels herself as a pro racing driver...
Stéphane, what are you eating head of a race, and when do you eat? "Ahead of a race, I’m really telling myself to eat well and enough. Normally I do not eat a lot of carbs, but when a race weekend is coming up I try to improve that, [because the] weekend is so intensive, I absolutely need to have enough energy. Also, this is especially true when it is over 15 degrees Celsius. About one week before the weekend I start to fully hydrate, by drinking more water (as I sometimes forget..) during the day".
Do you eat much after a long race? "After a race I basically eat what I feel like. Most of the time it has been very intense to me and I’ve consumed a lot of energy, so I treat myself".
Does your diet change much during the year, perhaps during on & off-season? "I try to keep my diet stable during the year. Obviously there are some periods in which that is just not possible, but in general my diet is the same during winter and summer period".
What are your thoughts on protein bars & shakes? Do you use them? "Up until now I haven’t eaten a lot of protein bars/shakes. In racing it is not about creating mass or muscles, and I always thought sports nutrition is about that. You have to be strong though, as loads of forces come on to your body. My new sponsor supplies me with sports nutrition supplements and I’ve found out that there are so many supplements you can use which are helpful to be/get fit in racing".
Do you eat at the gym at all? "To be honest, after going to the gym or doing sports in general, I never really feel like eating. I realize that that maybe isn’t very helpful, so for the last couple of weeks I have started to force myself to eat five times a day. What to eat, depends on the kind of energy I need at that moment".
What does a gym session look like for a racing driver? "My sporting schedule is sort of a mix. I try to mix cardio (running, and during summer cycling on the race bike) with weights. When I go to the gym I mostly train my core and shoulders, as I need these the most in the race car. Again, it is not about creating massive abs, but it mostly is about the core stability and to strengthen smaller (stabilization) muscles. Besides, I do a lot of yoga, as this helps me to stay flexible, but above all, to escape the stress and pressure sometimes".
Do you have a cheat meal? "My cheat meal is definitely ice-cream. I love ice-cream".
What meal(s) or foods do you rely on the most at home? "In the evenings I mostly eat low-carb meals such as, chicken or fish with vegetables. I’m not really a meat-lover, so I eat loads of fish".
So do you have a favourite recipe? "[laughing] I do have a seafood-pasta recipe (which completely contradicts my low-carb story, so I do not eat it often) with olive oil, garlic and red pepper which I absolutely love".
Is there anything you actively avoid as an athlete? "Besides carbs I try to avoid sugar. I’ve really found out that it is highly addictive. And when you are paying attention to what you eat, everything is full of sugars. So when I take sugars, I try to eat biological honey or another bio-sweetener. I also stopped consuming a lot of light products with sweeteners in it, as this is really bad for your health too".
How important is hydration as an athlete & as a racing driver? "Hydration is super important. I really need to force and remind myself to drink enough, but hydration is everything. As I race GT cars, it gets so hot inside the car. But in that heat, you need to perform for like 1 hour minimum, and stay fully present. When a race weekend is coming up, as said, I start to fully hydrate days before the weekend. Even during a race we have a drinking bottle with us (which you sometimes forget as you have different things to do while racing..). I’ve had several times that it got about 60 degrees in the car (in the summer) and that after 1 hour 15 minutes I almost fainted and had to report on the radio that I needed to come in. At that point you cannot drink anymore, and you are completely de-hydrated".
Do you have any pre-race rituals & where is your favourite place to compete?
"I don’t have ant pre race rituals. Loads of drivers do have them, and when for whatever reason the situation goes differently they are lost. So I really try to keep myself from creating rituals before a race. I just try to catch a good rest".
"My favorite track is definitely Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. It is an iconic race track and besides, it is very close to my home so it feels a bit like a home-track. I love driving there".