A couple weeks ago, I was on my way down to Daytona for a client event at the Daytona International Speedway to do the NASCAR Racing Experience. We did the Kings Experience – which was (2) 8 minute sessions of driving a NASCAR race car by yourself! (Yes, by yourself, NO ONE in the car with you)
I wasn’t planning on driving (hence the flip-flops) until we were checking in and I asked if I needed to sign the paperwork since I wasn’t driving; when all of a sudden, I hear “No Pippin, you’re driving!”
Ummmm….what?!?! I’m in FLIP-FLOPS!!! I can’t drive, I haven’t mentally prepared myself, I haven’t even updated my living will!!! Plus, I’m the only female – I can’t compete against 12 men! But apparently there was no question – I WAS DRIVING!
So after watching a ten minute video (yep ten minutes was all it took to learn how to drive a race car and escape if needed), it was time to get suited up!
I was relieved when I realized we went out in groups of 3-4 and not everyone was on the track at the same time. However, I was not relieved when the first group came back and a girl (who was not in our group) was crying because she was so overwhelmed from the experience and I was wondering what I got myself into!
They found me shoes and someone’s dirty socks and I was in the first pairing to go out from our group. Once my helmet was on and I was walking to my car, they took me away saying they had to change the tires. That didn’t leave me feeling very comfortable knowing that there were new tires on and I was praying they tightened the lug nuts properly (I googled that – I have no idea how to change a tire!)
Thankfully, I didn’t stall on my way out of pit road (as a side note, I always thought it was pit row) and I actually impressed myself and others at how well I did! First session of eight minutes, I felt oddly comfortable, I’m assuming it’s because I have a bit of a lead foot (which my dad often yells at me about) but it was an ABSOLUTE blast! I enjoyed the turns the most, they are extremely steep and four stories high – WHO KNEW?!?! And each turn I found myself being more and more adventurous.
The most intimidating fact is that your head cannot move one way or the other and you have to fully trust the person in your ear that is guiding you – hoping no car is coming up to your left as you fly out of pit road. Since I’m so short, I had to be pushed up in my seat so much that I had to keep bending down to see my RPM’s and I may or may not have gotten in trouble by my guide as I was told to slow down a few times (but in my defense, I couldn’t see the gauge)!
After my first eight minute session, I was sitting in the car all harnessed in and had my cell phone in my pocket – I asked the guy in pit road if I could pull it out to take a quick selfie. If you know me at all, I am NOT selfie taker, but this time I felt it was necessary!
There was a guy in our group, that didn’t go on his second eight minute session saying he was terrified, glad he did it, but he will never do it again!
Unfortunately, we still have not gotten our results, which is highly frustrating and they keep claiming that they are having computer issues and working with IT to fix. It has been 11 days and I fear we will not get them, but I know that I did more than 5,200 RPMs (whatever that means!)
Overall, it was a great experience and I’d highly recommend it to anyone! I think it is necessary to go at least twice, that way you can learn from your mistakes from the first time. However, they have all sorts of packages and we actually watched someone go off with a professional which seemed like it would be a ton of fun as well!