MacDonald's Goal is to Get Teams Eating Healthier
Featured on NASCAR.com, June 24, 2008. Click here to read the original article.
LONG POND, Pa. -- The smell of fat-laden meats sizzling on a grill lingers in the air. Large plastic containers of mayonnaise-based salads are cooling on ice next to bags of white bread, carb-loaded buns.
For much of the crews, it's chowtime in the NASCAR garage -- a site that often makes Kat MacDonald shake her head in disbelief.
"For the guys that go over the wall, to maintain the energy they need over the course of 500 miles and not get sluggish, they can't be bogged down with that kind of junk," said MacDonald, owner of Racing Edge Fitness, a new nutritionally-minded catering service gaining popularity among NASCAR teams such as Hendrick Motorsports and Furniture Row Racing.
Known as the healthy version of "Meals on Wheels," MacDonald prepares hundreds of packaged cuisine for those who seek her service on race weeks.
The food of Racing Edge Fitness, comprised of whole grains, lean meats and unprocessed side items, follows the concept of delivering five or six small meals a day, one or two of which are protein shakes or bars.
MacDonald's self-designed menu touts favorites such as whole-wheat banana pancakes, oatmeal-crusted chicken tenders and baked sweet potatoes.
At her headquarters in Mooresville, N.C., she and a hired chef prepare an average of 500 meals. The staff assembles the food in labeled, plastic shells to be packed in dry ice and trucked to the track.
Here, MacDonald loads her pull cart with several large boxes filled with the meals and begins her delivery service. At Pocono Raceway most recently, she started with the Hendrick teams, filling coolers outside of their respective haulers with nutritional goodness.
Once the race starts, MacDonald will take her cart out to pit road ensuring the crew members have enough calories to keep their metabolisms charged and energy levels up; foods low on the glycemic index that won't spike their blood sugar levels.
The service MacDonald provides not only allows crews to closely monitor their diets and caloric intake, but it also alleviates cooking responsibility of the crewmembers.
"Many times the hauler driver has to make meals and it's typically whatever goes on a grill; and beyond that, guys will reach for whatever junk food is in the hauler," MacDonald said.
Her idea to bring clean food to the NASCAR industry originated from her days as a personal trainer in 2006. MacDonald trained a handful of NASCAR drivers in Mooresville, a town located near the majority of team's race shops.
She helped David Gilliland and his wife embrace a healthy lifestyle, and when the driver won his first Nationwide Series race, MacDonald said she felt a part of the victory.
"I took pride in our efforts," she said. "Today these drivers and crewmembers are considered athletes and the demands put on them require special nutrition plans and training."
Once word got out about Racing Edge Fitness, MacDonald and her chef were asked to cater lunches at other shops in Mooresville and eventually, in 2007, she took her service on the road.
Today, MacDonald even makes home deliveries to Sprint Cup drivers Casey Mears and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
"I usually coordinate to drop off the meals with Casey's housekeeper. The drivers appreciate the meals, because they are never home to cook," she said. "I just started delivering to Junior's house and I'm so proud of him for taking the initiative."
MacDonald can also take partial credit for the supermodel body of Niki Taylor.
In preparation for Taylor's new reality show, Bravo's Make Me a Supermodel, Taylor and her NASCAR hubby Burney Lamar began subscribing to Racing Edge Fitness' meal delivery service in November.
The results speak for themselves.
"It makes me happy to know my hard work and efforts are helping people and making them feel good," MacDonald said.
Whether her clients walk runways or circle racetracks, MacDonald said any and every advantage helps when you're looking to beat the competition.