For Matt's (Erin's brother) birthday, He got a ticket to go on the Richard Petty Driving Experience and actually got to drive one of the Winston cars at Gateway. He arrived at Gateway at around 11 am and had to go through training for about an hour and a half. Then he was able to go driving.
The setup was that two 'students' went driving at a time. When each person drove he followed their lead car. If you wanted to go faster you closed in on the car and then they would go faster and vise versa. So actually the student was in total control of the speed. Matt's spot in line was 22nd and each group took about 15 minutes so the wait was long.
Erin's mom Barb called Erin and I to take photographs of Matt driving. So during the long wait, The Richard Driving Experience offered a ride-along option for those people who came to watch their family members drive. So Erin and I, Rachel, Maria, Reggie and April (Matt's friends) all took the opportunity to ride in the Winston cup car.
Erin and i were paired to ride in the two cars that rode simultaneously. We had to put on the flame retardant overalls and the big helmet along with a neck brace. Then we waited in line to drive while taking in the noise, heat of the cars and the smell of burning rubber. Then our time came to climb through the window and get in the car. The seat was tight, my head was immovable and the heat from the engine filled the car. But it didn't matter, the rumble from the engine was about to roar and we were going to be on our way.
Instantly my ears were filled a sound that was heard so many times while we waited. The acceleration threw my body against the seat. Then we took the first turn. The lateral g-forces were strong. The side bolstering from the seat was pushing hard against the turn-induced forces. My head was pressed hard onto the inside of my helmet, but nothing moved as i was well strapped into the car. As the car zoomed past 130 mph, the heat from the engine made my feet sweat. But none of that mattered, i was exhilarated at the speed, acceleration and handling that allowed the car to take an unbanked sharp turn at 90+ mph and banked turns at much faster which allowed the smile on my face to grow even bigger.
But unfortunately, the ride doesn't last forever. I had to get out and allow the next riders to go on their ride. then about the time that Erin and i got out of our driving attire, Matt was due to drive next. I documented the process of Matt getting in the car through the window and getting strapped in. Then he was given the sign to begin and off he zoomed. I snapped many pictures of his ride.
After we all regrouped and finished off our time at Gateway, we decided to go out to dinner at Cracker Barrel. The dinner was great but the ride along was even better.
To see the pictures, click here.