Optimising Wellness to Optimise Race Performance – Corey Mccullagh

Bananas, power lifting and diligence – insights from Sprintcar racer Corey Mccullagh about excelling in your field.

Motor sport enthusiasts will know there is far more to racing than meets the eye when it comes to keeping a sprintcar on the race track and a driver in blistering form. There’s a lot to be learned from people who are consistently performing at a high level in their field and sprintcar racing is no exception.
The latest technology, a meticulous maintenance regime and an A-grade support crew are all imperative in a sport where seconds can be the difference. Drivers are also continually seeking opportunities to help them find an extra 1% to give them an edge over their rivals. Which is what I wanted to find out about when I caught up with Corey Mccullagh, the 27 year old sprint car sensation who recently won Australia’s biggest race, the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic.
What I was really interested to learn from Corey was the strategies he has implemented to give himself the best shot at success. The physical, mental and nutritional practices Corey applies to stay focused and keep his foot down, that have contributed to him ascending the ranks as he now competes against some of his childhood idols.
There’s no question Corey is now a top threat in the Australian Sprintcar field having taken out four major wins from 15 starts last season with the pinnacle being the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic in January. The field consisted of 111 entries including 11 top level international racers. What’s more impressive is that Corey won the final from a ninth place start, the furthest back in the field a winner has started. Not only has this put Corey in the history books, it’s also put him on the radar of some bigger teams and is already opening up new opportunities for him.
While you might think that driving around in circles is no big feat, when you are wrestling with a beast of a machine that has a bigger horse power range than an F1 car, the level of fitness and concentration required to perform at the top level is remarkably high. The constant g-force applied to a racers neck and arms puts a huge strain on their upper body and core, and with race meets lasting up to 4.5 hours long and a main race of 30 – 40 laps, the concentration demands of the sport are intense.
So how does Corey fuel, move and live to best prepare him for the demands of his sport and more importantly what can we learn from him to maximise our own performance?

Fuel – Race fuel and proper hydration

Corey has only recently started paying more attention to his nutrition. While he credits his girlfriend for much of his diet which he says is fairly normal, he does have a secret race fuel… bananas. One of the world’s most popular fruits, bananas contain a high amount of easily digestible carbs and have a fairly low glycemic index so they won’t give Corey a large blood sugar spike. The high fibre content will also help Corey feel fuller for longer so he doesn’t feel hungry during race meets. He also ensures that he eats a proper meal when he has a break during a race meet and is drinking a lot of fluids.
“When you feel thirsty, you wear out quicker.”
Through experience, Corey understands the benefits of staying hydrated, stating that it increases his energy levels and gives him clarity which allows him to make better decisions while racing. When one bad decision can be the difference between a podium finish or time and money spent on car repairs, it’s important for Corey to do everything he can to ensure he stays mentally alert during races.

Move – Power lifting and consistency

Over the past season Corey has stepped up his workout regime and it didn’t take long to notice an increase in his endurance. “I was previously getting puffed” he said recalling the fatigued he used to feel towards the end of races. Now with the help of his power lifting coach who he works with 3 time per week for 2 hours each session, he has increased the strength and power of his arms and core.
“I started looking at my racing like a business.”
Once Corey started looking at his racing more like a business, he realised there is more he can do when he’s off the track to give himself the best chance of success on it. He’s learned that he can’t seperate his racing career from “normal” life and as such he knows he needs to better look after himself physically everyday. Which is a great reminder for us that we can’t compartmentalise all the areas of our lives and particularly our health and pretend they have no impact one another.

Live – Systems, sleep and support.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from Corey is that order is the first order of the day. Corey describes himself as slightly OCD when it comes to his pre-race preparation and uses checklists to ensure everything is ready, cleaned and packed just as it should be. When he knows that he’s well organised, it allows him to feel more relaxed and have a quality sleep the night before a race knowing there’s no more he can do until he’s on his way to the track the next day.
“The more relaxed you are the better you sleep.”
Sleep is the next big piece of pre-race preparation with Corey saying “it’s huge” when describing the importance of quality sleep. To stay alert during long race days, a good night sleep is a must for both focus and maintaining energy levels.
Lastly, one of the biggest contributors of his success… The support of his crew, family and sponsors. Even though Corey is the one sitting behind the wheel there are a plethora of people who have helped him get there.
“You cannot do this on your own.”  
Mates, mentors and family have been the key to his success and Corey says you need all three to achieve your goals in life. His crew are some of his best mates and they know how to keep it positive and keep it fun which “takes the pressure off” and helps keep the mood relaxed. One of his main sponsors, Murray, has been a great mentor for Corey who Corey says is “a bit of a life coach” who he can turn to for advice about racing and life. Combined with the support of his Dad and girlfriend, no matter what happens, Corey feels it’s the people around him that gives him the best chance of success.
Corey knows he’s putting in the work, and his effort is certainly paying off as he competes and holds his own against big teams with big budgets. Follow Corey’s progress on Facebook and Instagram @coreymccullaghv90 to keep up to date with his preparation for the upcoming season kicking off on October 13th at Avalon Raceway.
“You need to find what works for you. For me that’s being organised and being prepared.” 
Corey, you’re super impressive and I wish you all the best with the upcoming season, I know that you’ll start this season as strong as you finished your last!
Corey has had a lot of people help him along the way and wanted to use the opportunity to thank his main sponsors:
  • Warrnambool RV & Caravan Centre
  • Owenbuilt Homes
  • South West Conveyancing
  • Owentruss
  • Westvic Sheds & Garages
I Grasp Wellness provides wellness coaching for individuals to help create enduring healthy change. If you know it’s time to take a look at your own wellbeing and need help navigating exercise planning, nutrition, sleep strategies and motivation to stay focused, connect with I Grasp Wellness today for a complimentary wellness discovery session.