Cool way to spend a day... I must be getting older than I thought...

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by TomFL, Jan 19, 2010.

  1. TomFL

    TomFL Well-Known Member

    For Christmas my family sent me to Daytona to do the Richard Petty ride-along and driving experience, and I gotta tell you it was a blast.

    I got there early to do the ride-along and while I was getting strapped into the passenger seat you start to notice the driver has a full-face helmet and you don't; he's wearing fire proof gloves and a real fire suit and all you're wearing is a cheap cloth jumpsuit/firesuit imitation.. Funny how your mind works... Anyways, I shook the guy's hand and asked that he bring me back alive. He pegged it from the drop of the clutch in the pits all the way into turn one, and lemme tell you that banking looks like a danged wall when it's in front of you and you're coming at it at WOT. My first instinct was to shout "SLOW THE "F" DOWN!!!!" but I think I was too scared to say it out loud!

    Once I survived the first turn I had a little more confidence I was going to live through this ride once we hit turn two. The G-forces, all the bumping, and the car lurching were incredible feelings. The fact that as a passenger you can almost reach out the window and touch the wall isn't too confidence inspiring, let me tell you...

    Two laps went by way too quick and we were back in the pits, trying to get out of the car gracefully and walk away on wobbly legs.

    Me getting strapped in before the ride-along:

    After a quick change of my boxer shorts, I headed into a 1-hour class before taking my turn at driving. A bunch of common sense stuff, them telling us that if we wreck the car we pay, and then a ton of lawyer-mumbo-jumbo yadda-yadda paperwork where you sign your life away and next thing you know you're being strapped into the driver's seat. An instructor is in the car in front of you, and you have pretty explicit instructions to follow his tire tracks perfectly, at a distance of 3 car lengths (A lot harder then it sounds).

    Ready to hit the throttle:

    First lap I gotta admit I kinda wussed a bit, not knowing what to expect and how the car would handle. Plus the temps were in the 40's and the wind was howling; not exactly good grip and driving weather. After a lap or two I started to settle in and relax and could concentrate on hitting the lines the instructor was hitting.

    I have to admit there really is no sensation of speed until you hit the corners. The place is so big that you have nothing to relate the speed to. Then when you hit the corners and get pressed into the banking you really feel how fast you're going. The car really jerks around and feels like it wants to flip over sideways but can't because of the banking. Coming out of turn 2 you really get pushed wide toward the wall; for me this was the only trouble spot and it made me a bit nervous.

    About 6 laps into it I started to realize the car handled the corners better the faster you went, and if you totally floored it going into the corners. I wish I had more laps as you only get 8 and man they go quick.

    I could clearly see I was 1,000 RPM's short of where the car was running when I did the drive along, but still felt I was going as fast as I could safely go, barring smashing into the wall and mortgaging my house to pay for a crumpled pile of race car.

    I used to do my fair share of drag racing back in the early 90's but I never had to make any turns, so for me this was new.

    My fastest lap was a measly 147 average; at first it sounds slow (and probably is) but I will add that the when I asked the instructor during the ride-along how fast we went he said with the conditions he's limited to about 160-165. So I don't feel all too bad considering.

    Great way to spend the day and an experience I'll never forget!

    Photo op with the Petty camera car:
  2. jimbarn1961

    jimbarn1961 GOT FEESH?

    WOO HOO, way cool Tom ;)

  3. DuckNut

    DuckNut Brandon, FL

    Where's the bottle of Gatorade?

    Very cool!
  4. iMacattack

    iMacattack busy, too busy

    go straight, turn left... go straight, turn left... go straight, turn left... go straight, turn left... go straight, turn left... go straight, turn left...


    Looks like you had a great time!

  5. tom_in_orl

    tom_in_orl Founder of Microskiff, Member of the Gheenoe Army

    Very cool. [smiley=1-thumbsup2.gif] Its on my list of things to do before I kick the bucket too.
  6. Brett

    Brett > PRO STAFF <

    All left turns and no traffic, I'm not impressed... ;)
    I wanna see the NASCAR guys run I-4 from Tampa to Daytona during rush hour.

    Now that would be worth a pay-per-view! ;D
  7. Un-shore

    Un-shore Well-Known Member

    I've wanted to do that for a long time now too.

    Back when I was 30 it sounded easy, but now...

    I got nervous just reading your story.

    thanks for sharing!
  8. HaMm3r

    HaMm3r Well-Known Member

    That's pretty cool Tom! :cool: Congrats on having the nerve to do it. ;D I wouldn't mind trying that myself...

    Closest thing I've ever done is "driving" a dragster in Daytona. Those things go from 0 to 90 in like 3 seconds, or something insane like that. The acceleration was so intense it blurred my vision. :D

    While that was fun, I'm sure it didn't even compare your day. :)