Friday, February 17, 2012

My Crappy NASCAR Adventure

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.