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!



Michelle said...

What a fun experience! Glad you enjoyed it. :)

Dara Edmondson said...

Sounds like a blast. Good move ordering the DVD. That kind os speed would scare the sh%#t out of me.

Kelly said...

Wow - that sounds amazing! I would so love to do that. And 5 seatbelts?? Hahaha...I think that would make me nervous. Why do I need all of these? What do you think is going to happen out there??

April said...

LOL, Dara. I said the same sentiment... While being recorded!

Kelly, LOL. I'm not sure if it's the seatbelts or the extinguisher pointing at me that scared me more. They strap you in every way to Sunday, that's for sure. Then there's these two tiny releases that releases it all... LOL!

Shelli Stevens said...

OMG that sounds so scary. And you described it awesome. I would have had the same 'ass' fear you did. So no way. LOL. Plus, it sounds so tiny and trapped in there. You rock for doing it!!

Lis said...

Sounds like you had an awesome time!!

Julie S said...

OMG you are my hero.

Brown said...

Great synopsis--my heart's still racing and I wasn't even there!

And lol, on the instructor talking over his shoulder.