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Clean Machine
Jul. 10, 2017 #22-190 a2z
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Roar of the engine, sounds of shifting gears, that’s NASCAR

By Wade Lebeau

Driving a NASCAR race car proves to be an experience of driving excellence.  Going to drive a NASCAR race car at Joliet Speedway had my nerves on high alert.  I had not driven a 4-speed for many years.  To drive the NASCAR Experience at Joliet Speedway you proceed to the infield via the tunnel.  When you get to the tunnel you realize wow, this is serious, and the banking of the track is nothing like normal driving on daily roads to and from work.  Its larger then what you see on TV, the racetrack is amazing, have to be there to appreciate it.

You proceed to check-in where they accept your license as your key to drive, returned to you after your drive.  Next to the drivers meeting where the training begins.  The emphasis is fun and safety; these concepts are gone over at least 3-times.  I found the training very helpful, I knew nothing about driving a NASCAR.  I paid particular attention to the apron line and the 5-foot rule.  When you watch my in car video you will hear my spotter telling me many times 5-feet off the white line.

Driving

After training it’s time to wait your turn.  You’re suited up in a fire garment, it’s hot to wear.  Then ear buds that are duck taped to your ear so they stay in and the helmet goes over easy.  Next it’s the hair net and helmet; I wore my sunglasses.  Now you wait; the cars are custom built so when waiting you’re not really in line, they will pick you based on best car fit.

OK, they select you, someone is in constant contact with you to and from the wall to car, and you are never left along.  Now getting in the car is not easy, probably the hardest task of the day.  You’re slipping through a window into a roll cage with no handles or guides.  One leg in the window –right first, next leg, than wiggle into the seat.  Then the high profile seatbelt system; you are strapped in really tight, no wiggle room.  Then the steering wheel is attached, window net is closed, thumbs up to pit crew, wave to family and friends.  Next your waved to go, the car is in gear 1, hit the gas.

Driving, shift 1-2-3-4 by end of pit road, I was really nervous about this, I did great; I watched the video, shifting was smooth, I was happy.  Then spotter says “Have a copy driver” I said 10-4; button on the steering wheel allows you to talk to the spotter.  Once I was on the apron the spotter tells you when to move onto the race track.  The spotter is in constant contact with you by 2-way radio; the spotter helps you manage the racecar and track the best you can; being a non-professional driver the spotter is a big help.

On track you’re driving with both hands tightly holding the steering wheel, with the helmet and seat head pads you can’t look left/right, it’s a very tight fit; you do have a rearview mirror –I did not use, I focused on the track ahead of me.  The corners were interesting, you have a tendency to drift high, and the spotter will direct you lower.  This was tough for me the first couple of laps, as my spotter tells me many times to be lower into the corner.  I was a little timid the first couple of laps to full throttle into the corners; I did after the first couple of laps.  After the first couple of laps I felt much more comfortable, snug in corners, center on straight a ways.

I did 7-laps with a speed of 149 MPH, to me it seemed I was only going about 100 MPH, when you watch the video you can see the wall signage flying by, I was hoping to be at 150 MPH; 149 MPH close enough, I can always drive again.

NASCAR® and its marks are trademarks of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc.

NascarRacingExperience © https://www.nascarracingexperience.com/

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