Most of my friends know that I am an adventure seeker. So, when my friend gave me a NASCAR racing experience for my birthday, he knew it was right up my alley.
I left Birmingham about 9am to get to Talladega for my 10:30am NASCAR experience. I think my friend bought this whole package for about $130.00. I was scheduled to be at Talladega for about 3 hours.
When I arrived, I had to watch a 30-minute video about the track, the cars, and safety guidelines. After watching the video, I went to the supply area where I was given a jumpsuit, a helmet, and a headset. While I was putting on all of this gear, I had a feeling of just how dangerous this sport can be, hence the need for all of the equipment. Once I was ready, I felt good about the safety measures and I was ready to get onto the track.
The roar of the engine was the first thing I heard as I turned around the corner towards the track. My instructor already had the dark orange Ferrari ready and waiting for me. I had such an exhilarating feeling as I climbed through the window into the driver’s seat.
On the first couple of laps, I was instructed to stay under 100 mph as I became accustomed to handling the Ferrari. I headed out onto the track. The thing I remember that surprised me the most was the noise level of the engine. It was really, really loud! It sounded like resting my head right next to a jet engine.
Another thing that I remember was that it was very hot in the cabin of the car. I could feel beads of sweat forming on my entire body. This was probably not all due to the heat of the engine, but also due to my excitement, and physical workout I was getting from steering the car. My muscles were getting sore from the pounds of force it took just to turn the wheel at such a fast speed. I ended up going really fast; absurdly fast, I thought.
After my first few laps, I was given the hand signals that meant I could pick up the speed. I topped out at 178mph during my last couple of laps. I was going so fast that it was impossible to focus on anything outside of the car. All of my energy and attention was focused on driving. I guess when NASCAR drivers are in a race, they must not see a thing going on in the stands around them. When I was at top speeds that day, it was so exhilarating to feel as if I was thrown back into the seat like I was being punched into it. It was also unforgettable to feel the wheels lose a little of their grip on the track when I took a curve a little too fast.
My time on the track came to an end and I was directed to pull off into the pit. I struggled a bit to crawl out of the car. I have a new respect for NASCAR drivers that spend hours in the car before they crawl out after a race. My arms felt like jelly from clutching the steering wheel and from the constant vibration of the car. I loved the feeling of going that fast on the track in such a powerful Ferrari. I think I will definitely have to try this experience again!