Race Weekend Central

Fan’s View: My Inner Racecar Driver Unleashed

Weird stuff happens to a fan when the sun rises on race day. The adrenaline starts pumping. The desire to don a colorful t-shirt and an ancient hat overpower any idea of coordinating your wardrobe. You hanker for a hot dog, cold beer and a bunch of other so-not-good-for-you foods. It’s gonna be a good day for sitting back and taking it all in.

For me, all that has changed.

On Saturday, April 3, New Hampshire Motor Speedway invited its ticket holders to an open house called The Fantasy Drive. Ah, but not just any open house. We were invited to bring our cars and take a spin on the track.

Now, when we received the email, we decided this would be a rather controlled situation. They would take our name, spend some time looking at our registration, have us sign in and then we’d be escorted out on the track for a couple laps all by our lonesome. Not quite.

Yes, there was a pace car that kept the speeds legal… sort of. The school bus was clocked at 90 mph.

But we weren’t the only car on the track! I got to go door-to-door with about 10 other fanatical ticket holders. The Monte Carlo dressed up with the No. 3 decals sort of startled me as it blew past. I passed the Chevy Suburban in my Impala. And I kept worrying I would run over the pair of motorcycles that slammed the brakes on when we went into the corners.

Each time I entered the straightaways, something odd happened. I had this unfamiliar compulsion to stomp on the pedal. I had to pass that dude. Get under the other one. Try to not to cut off the truck riding in my blind spot.

When we pulled into the infield to park, I sat for a minute and wondered, what had gotten into me? Good Lord! Is this what it’s all about? More than anything, I wanted to go back out there and do it again. Could I stick the low line? Maybe try diamonding the corner? How about do some rim riding?

It wasn’t just the speed, although I will admit that was intoxicating in itself with the windows down and the music blasting. It was much more.

Mixed in with the uncertainty of testing the sad limits of my four door sedan on too old tires, driving on a Cup track brought with it a myriad of distracting thoughts.

We went three-wide into turn 3. Alarms went off in my head. But my car wasn’t pushing and the bike up by the wall seemed to be steady. What about the guy on my inside? Was he OK? Didn’t the three of us know that you really can’t do three-wide at New Hampshire?

Blasting by the flagstand, a couple other fans were giving us the one-to-go signal. Hey! You really can see that! Wait! Am I paying attention to what I’m doing? That Monte Carlo is getting away! Wow! This is fun! Wait! How fast am I going? That’s it? The Cup boys go how fast? Did you know it’s easier to drive on the banking?

I know that many of you kind readers have enjoyed careers in this sport of ours. Others have forked over the bucks and taken the various driving programs offered.

I am a timid little woman who has never gotten a speeding ticket in her life, let alone entertained the thought of climbing behind the wheel of any kind of racing machine. My sense of self-preservation tells me that would lead to certain death. And I wasn’t really supposed to be the one driving this weekend.

But, the fine folks at NHMS didn’t even give me a second to swap places when I drove up to the track. They pointed to a line of cars waiting and I follow directions very well. In seconds, it was me pulling onto the track. ACK!

Well, new experiences keep you young, don’t they? My moment of NASCAR fantasy certainly livened up my world, if only for three short laps.

I now have a small inkling of the desire, compulsion and commitment often found in auto racing’s fiercest competitors. New Hampshire Motor Speedway provided me with the best moment in my life as a NASCAR fan.

Race day will never again dawn as just a day to watch the world go round. Now, it will be a time to remember the moment when that green flag waved for me.

Author’s Note: Since I got to drive, my husband got to take pictures! Click on the link for a short video of our day at the track.

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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