After a year of anticipation, months of training and promoting, and two rounds of intense judging, we have a NEW world champion of professional bodybuilding—and his name is Derek Lunsford. Following a dramatic prejudging round on Friday, Nov. 3, the finals of the 2023 Mr. Olympia was held Saturday night in the Orange County Convention […]
The pursuit of making it in the highly competitive world of NASCAR comes with a lot of financial backing from sponsors, serious networking, training, practicing, natural talent, and a serious love of the sport. Blake Lothian discovered the sport as a child and was hooked.
In 2019 and 2020 Lothian participated in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Development program. In 2021 at the age of 19, he raced late-model stock cars in the Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series. He won his first race on one of the toughest tracks on the circuit and went on to garner five top-five finishes and eight overall top-ten finishes in eight starts. Last year, he made his Camping World Truck Series debut last year in Martinsville, VA.
Blake Lothian is currently in the driver development program with the Wings and Wheels Foundation. As he continues to pursue his NASCAR journey, the 21-year-old Wellesley, MA, native spoke with Muscle & Fitness about the growth mindset he uses to not get overwhelmed with the process of reaching his dream. He also spoke about his extreme heat training, how he escapes racing, and the importance of paying it forward.
Lothian’s first experience with NASCAR came at age six as he began watching it on television. As a kid with ADHD, something about the action on the track, and learning about the drivers and teams held his attention for those few hours. Getting the call that he was selected by Rev Racing for the Drive for Diversity program; he was on his way to realizing his dreams.
Once you make your way into the world of NASCAR, there is an immediate pressure to perform. Since he was a child, Lothian’s way of handling internal and external pressure is by setting small goals for himself.
“With my first truck race, my goal was literally just to finish the race, complete all the laps, and do what was needed to finish the race,” Lothian said. “That helps make it not extremely overwhelming because you’re still working to do your best.”
“I also just think about back to my younger self,” he continued. “My younger self would kill to be exactly where I am right now. And that’s another way to appreciate where I am now to put myself in a great opportunity for next season.”
One aspect of racing that goes undiscovered is the mental component. Each driver has a natural ability and talent behind the wheel as the levels progress. Lothian says that talent alone isn’t enough as you continue to climb.
“It goes from more natural talent to having to learn a lot more, because you’re going from one vehicle to another, “ he says. “That’s where the mental side comes into play because you’re learning another vehicle that handles and performs differently”
Like most professional athletes, drivers have to have a level of self-confidence that borders on the unrealistic. Lack of belief in yourself or the vehicle can impact your driving style. Given that drivers don’t have too much time behind the wheel before qualifiers and the actual race, racing simulators are a driver’s best friend. Lothian using iRacing to race against friends or whoever is online. Since all the tracks are laser scanned, he can figure out how his vehicle should handle around turns, and where the breaking and throttle points are. This only helps take away the guesswork on race day.
It’s no secret that the hotter the track you’re racing on, the hotter inside the car will be. Drivers routinely lose up to 15 lbs during a race as in-car temperatures can climb into the 130s. They can also lose up to seven pounds during qualifiers. There isn’t a true way to replicate these conditions during simulation but Lothian has at least found a hack he can use to help his comfort level some in extreme temperatures.
“I do a lot of heat training, so for instance, I’ll drive around in my car during the summer with the windows up and the heat blasting for about an hour or two. That helps with the mental part as well and usually, the more uncomfortable you are, your focus tends to slip. This helps me train my mind to stay sharp.”
On top of that, Lothian has a pretty strict workout routine that he performs each day. The core areas of focus are the strength of the neck, arms, hands, and core. With being locked into a fixed position for two to five hours while experiencing 3Gs of force, it’s imperative to make sure the body can withstand that toll.
It can be hard to mentally step away from what you’re passionate about and pursuing. From the time spent on a simulator to making sure his body and mind are prepared for the rigors of racing, most of Lothian’s schedule is geared around excelling on the track. While it helps he genuinely loves the sport, he knows that burnout is real, and has made a conscious effort to find outlets to help clear his mind.
“I try to go out horseback riding and work with some horses at least twice a week,” Lothian said. “I try to hike as much as I can also. It’s a way to get away from racing because sometimes it’s unhealthy to base everything around that.”
NASCAR was something Lothian stumbled upon as a kid. There wasn’t anyone in his family that had an interest in motorsports. NASCAR’s focus and commitment to increasing exposure to the sport have been highlighted over the years by bringing new courses and experiences to different cities. Lothian also does his part by routinely speaking with schoolchildren to increase their understanding of the sport.
Lothian also speaks to parents about the financial and student side of motorsports to provide some understanding of the commitment required to advance from go-karts to oval-style racing. It’s something he feels a responsibility to do and something that he loves.
“When I was growing up, there weren’t many people that looked like me involved in the sport,” he said. “So, I want to give those kids the chance and expose anyone I can to motorsports to help grow the sport. I just love seeing the kid’s faces when I get to tell them about having a growth mindset and field all the questions that they end up asking me, which can be pretty comical. But it’s the greatest thing in the world.”
Follow Blake Lothian on Instagram @blake_lothian