Get inside Klaus Graf’s Ears

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#6 Muscle MIlk Aston MartinI had the opportunity to interview Klaus Graf, driver for the #6 Muscle Milk Aston Martin ALMS LMP1 entry, about what his ears are doing while he’s racing. Here’s what he had to say:

TTA: The car’s cockpit is, I’m sure, a very busy place. Are there any sounds that you are particularly attuned to?

I usually make sure to pay attention that the engine is running to the correct sound and then you just watch for any noise out of the ordinary, it is something you need to pay close attention to because if it’s a sound that doesn’t belong there it means there must be a problem.

TTA: Does the sound of the engine become overwhelming at all? Given your car is rear-engined most of the sound should be behind you, but it must still be quite loud. How about transmission sound?

We have the earpieces which do a good job of blocking the outside noise and the helmet, and actually as you said most of the sound is behind me so the inside sound is quite different from the outside sound. I hear the transmission sound very little, just a little bit on shifting.

TTA: Do your helmets have any modifications for sonic comfort, aside from the speakers for radio communications?

We have to really make sure we block out most of the engine noise because it could do some serious damage to the ears. It’s gotten a lot better over the years and we have custom-made earpieces that do a great job. In the old days a lot of drivers suffered from injuries to their ears because of the cars being too loud but nowadays with the earpieces and the helmet it protects really well.

TTA: Speaking of radio communications, the little sound bytes we get to hear on broadcast are very difficult to understand, more from driver to crew than the other way around. Is it that tough to hear communications in car?

In the car it’s pretty good. Usually it’s crystal clear actually, I can understand the crew quite well, most of the time, unless we have a problem. However, if you sit on the pit stand and you listen to the other driver while he is in the car, sometimes he says something back and you’re all looking at each other on the timing stand and asking ‘what did he just say’. So it seems to be harder for the crew to hear the driver than the other way around!

TTA: Are you able to hear the sounds tires make as they approach the edge of grip? In my (limited) experience with performance driving, tires tend to howl when they’re on the edge, right before the squeal of no grip.

Not our Michelin tires! If they do that, that’s a bad sign. There’s no noise but you feel it when you’re on the edge, there’s no noise involved in that.

TTA: What’s your favorite sounding car? (Doesn’t have to be ALMS!)

The sound of high revving Formula 1 cars is pretty unbelievable, that’s probably the best sound in the world.

TTA: What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened while you were driving?

Animals running across the track. It could be dangerous but as long as they’re small enough it’s a bit funny actually!

TTA: Lastly, where can I direct fans who want to know more? (Twitter feed, Facebook, website, etc?)

TEAM:
Twitter: @MuscleMilkRace
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MuscleMilkMotorsports

DRIVERS:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KlausGrafOfficial

Twitter: @LucasLuhr
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LucasLuhrOfficial

I want to thank Klaus Graf and the Muscle Milk PR Manager Karina Redmond for taking the time to share thoughts with me.

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