Saturday, September 29, 2007

Just Call Me April Andretti...

Racing was FABULOUS! It was the biggest fright and exhilaration all wrapped into one.

We had to leave home around 8AM and my "driving experience" started at 11AM. When we got there it was neat because we drove through the tunnel out onto the asphalt in the center of the track. It's quite an overwhelming place!

First we watched a short video, then they broke us into groups and sent us out with instructors. My group toured the track first. I got to sit shot-gun in the van and they take us out and drove us around stopping where they need to point out certain things. Which can be disturbing when you're in a loaded van on a track tilted to 24%.

They have markers for your driving line painted on the track. If you stay between them you get the most bang for the buck. Then they have cones for where you take your foot off the gas going into a turn and for where you speed back up. After pointing everything out they take the van around the track at about 85mph. Which may not have been so scary if my instructor hadn't been talking over his shoulder to everyone and turning around looking back.

Then we went for in car instruction. This is where they tell you everything to do if something goes wrong. There's a million and one releases, a fire extinguisher pointed at you, and a low oil pressure gage I'm sad to say I never even looked at during my drive.

From then on it's waiting for your turn. I was almost at the end of the list which permitted my nerves to settle a little. Well, until they called my name at least. Then they suited me up with a helmet (they put you in a driving suit first thing) and a neck brace... The ones they came out with after Dale Earnhardt's accident.

We didn't practice getting in to the car. No doors, you know. So I'm standing there fearing my big fat butt won't fit through the window, despite all assurances that it will. Surprise surprise, it wasn't my butt that got stuck, it was my head. With the neck brace on you can't turn your head to the side and I needed to. They just pushed on it and popped me in.

After scooting all the way back in the seat I look up to discover this window is nothing like the one on my car. It's plexi-glass so it's sort of warpy and it was dirty. Meanwhile I'm being strapped in with 5 seat belts, a steering wheel is being put on and my pulse has increased from it's usual 75 bpm to around 250. That's what it felt like at least.

Terrified my sweaty palms would cause the wheel to slip, I convulsively wiped them on my jump suit jerking them back to the 10 and 4 position on the wheel (easier for turning) and watch for my signal. There was no one else in the car, but an instructor drove a car in front of me. I was supposed to follow at a 3-5 car distance, but he really wanted to go really fast so that was hard.

After a little trouble with 4th gear, I set out around the track. The drive was over before I knew it. I took one turn a little faster than I meant to, and I kept getting the flag to get closer to my instructor, but I was plenty happy with my top speed of 124. It's not the 140 another student did, but he'd done it before.

When I got out I was shaking. A lot. And there was this mix of excitement and appreciation that it was over.

They have a camera in the car that records you. We gave in and ordered the dvd... It should be interesting. I think I swore twice... When I couldn't get it into 4th and when I took that turn to fast. But there shouldn't be any sound.

There ARE pictures and I promise to post some as soon as my hubby gives them to me. I knew I should have taken MY camera ;o)

Hubby turned down my offer to drive home... Which meant I got a nap.

It was the experience of a life time. I'm not sure if I'll ever do it again. One minute I think, "oh yeah..." Then the next I think, "Mmmm, maybe not." LOL!

I will say if you ever get the chance, take it!


Friday, September 21, 2007

Look Another Post

I'm setting a new record... Two posts in ONE week!!!! Look at me go! Check out my post at Word Flirts :o)


Monday, September 17, 2007

Rad Racer, Here I Come....

Things around here have been nuts. I turned 30 this past weekend. For my birthday, my darling husband got me a Richard Petty Driving Experience.

For those unfamiliar, the experience means I go to a race track, probably Lowe's Motor Speedway because it's close, and take a class on how to drive the cars and safety instructions. Then I'm unleashed for 8 timed laps driving a race car around the track. The student with the best time wins! My family even gets to go and watch... To my mother's relief. She's not as happy as me about this gift. :o)

I had joked some time ago that I would be REALLY GOOD at this. And hubby thought it was time I made good on that boast. And to be honest, I'm REALLY excited! This definately ranks in the top 3 best B-day presents ever.

How about you? What's your most favorite present ever?


Monday, September 03, 2007

So Refreshing....

This labor day has been quite refreshing for me. After weeks of not getting to even crack open my wip, I not only opened it and renewed my relationship with its characters, I even added 5500 words! YAY!

It feels wonderful to get somewhere. Anywhere. And I'm sure my poor characters feel the same.

Who knows what the next week will hold. I have a ton scheduled, so I may not get much more added. But at least I have it percolating in the old noggin'.

How about you? How's your writing going?


It Has Started...

I'm not the tomboy I used to be. And even then, I played most neighborhood sports in my plastic high heels. But the one thing I have yet managed to release from my childhood is college football.

I live south of the good ole M-D line and here, college football rules the fall. And this weekend marks the beginning of the fanatical season.

We used to have season tickets. Back when the football season actually felt like football weather because we had to take sweaters to games. But anymore it's sweltering. Which made letting our season tickets go not so bad. My dear hubby gets press passes and watches the game from the sidelines... A little too close to the action for my blood. And he's willing to give up those passes a couple of games each season so I can go and we can sit together.

But there's more to games here than three and a half hours of watching guys butt heads. College football is a culture. The week before a game, people with RVs more expensive than our house begin arriving at specially designated parking areas. They set up their 56 inch satellite TVs which show pregame shows from the side of the RV while crowds of tailgaters gather near and their TEC Bar-B-Ques in preparation for gameday.

If a game begins at 7PM, tailgating will start as early as 9 or 10AM. But the average fan starts just after noon. Yes, that's almost 7 hours before the game even starts. And we're talking HUGE spreads. You'd think people were storing up food for a famine.

Not to mention the cost of tailgating spots. Some parking spaces sell for as much as $20,000 a season. And then there are condos and special tailgating units selling anywhere from $250,000-$500,000. You at least get ownership of the units, but that's still pretty expensive for a couple of hours enjoyment each weekend. But hey, who am I to complain about the way other people spend their money?

This all occurred to me because during the pregame radio show this past weekend a lady called in to the show. She'd recently moved here from California and she was complaining. She said that when August rolled around everyone here acted as though nothing else existed other than college football. The hosts played with her for a bit, but it made me realize it isn't like this everywhere else.

College football does rule here. Team spirit is a very lively thing. But it's more than that. It's a cultural event, a social gathering. Our first two seasons with season tickets we sat next to the same couples every game. You eventually come to know the people you sit or park next to. You come to know their families, and before long, you're connecting all of the people you both know and you realize this really isn't that big of a place after all. And for a couple of hours, everyone comes together to cheer on their team.

The energy that camaraderie generates is unequalled anywhere else I've been. And so each year I look forward to the count down to gameday and I enjoy the electricity which enters the air as it comes near. It also helps that I spend the Saturday's my hubby is away watching the game muted on TV and writing.

How about where you live? Does college football rule? NFL? NHL? NBA? college basketball? Anything?