Nathan and I recently drove NASCAR stock cars at an actual racing track in Southern California. First, we listened to a 45 minute lecture about safety and the driving of the vehicles. Our instructor told us that we could easily hit 120 mph after our first few laps around the track. Since I regularly speed along the Los Angeles freeways at 80 mph, I figured I would at least be able to hit 110 mph in a race car.
When I finally drove around the race track, I topped out at 40 mph, max. My top speed may have been closer to 32 mph.
Here's the track:
This is an actual NASCAR race track. There are races here on Saturday nights, but the track itself is not even half the size of a soccer field.
And it was a tight oval:
We were constantly turning. The "straight away" was about 10 feet long. I would hit the accelerator and .4 seconds later, it was time to turn again.
The best part was getting to play dress-up in the racing outfits:
(I'm the short person with the white helmet. Nathan is the tall person with the black helmet. Just in case there's any confusion - the helmets make it difficult to tell us apart).
Here's Nathan standing by our race cars. Do you see the blue Dodgers car? I drove that bad boy. I had to climb in the window and once inside, dang, it was claustrophobic. But I was excited! I was going to drive a real NASCAR stock car! Danica Patrick, look out!
But when I finally drove the car on to the course, my only thought was "Don't crash." I had paid for the privilege of driving 20 laps, but after I had survived the fourth lap, I had had enough. The car was noisy and every time I accelerated, it sounded like the entire thing was going to explode. And I really did not want to be trapped inside an exploding race car.
I had assumed driving a NASCAR stock car would be an exhilarating experience, like zip lining or going on a roller coaster. But my "don't die" instinct is just too strong. On a roller coaster, I just have to sit and enjoy the ride. I'm very good at sitting and enjoying the ride. But when I am in charge of the death trap, and I have my foot on the pedal? It turns out I'm very good at being a wimp.
Next time I feel the need for speed, I'll just rent a golf cart.