Yesterday a group of us from ANG Newspapers had the opportunity to take two Hot Laps around Infineon Raceway. The cars were Dodge Neon SRT-4s and were driven by professional drivers from the Jim Russell Racing School.
I knew that I was going to be taking this “lap” a couple days ago but I never stopped to think about what it would actually be like. For some reason I had this ridiculous thought that it would just be a little tour around the track, with our driver pointing out fun little factoids about each turn. Oh how wrong I was.
Earlier in the day I picked a random racing fan to join us for the Hot Lap. Steve Martini from Napa was very happy to be selected and made a great addition to our group.
So finally the time came to get into a car. After I signed a waiver and put on the helmet it dawned on me that this wasn’t going to be a leisurely drive around the track. They really meant this whole Hot Lap thing.
Check out the photo below. This is me before getting into the car, that’s Steve on the right; he sat up front with our driver Tony. Steve asked if I wanted the front seat or the back, to which I asked which was less scary. He just chuckled, and I picked the back. I figured that if I couldn’t see what was coming up next I wouldn’t freak out as much. See how my eyes are closed? That’s how I spent a big part of the laps around the track! We went 100 mph, with the other car racing us through corners.
I remembered laughing and saying “oh my god!, oh my god!” every time we’d enter a turn, go through a turn or come out of a turn. Tony purposely took us over the rumble strips (to demonstrate how the NASCAR drivers can use them to their advantage during the race to help turn the car) and I thought “Should he really be doing that???! Ahhhh!!!” as I gripped a cup holder for dear life.
While the experience was a little scary, okay, very scary, it was a lot of fun. It was great to see exactly what the NASCAR drivers see when they’re blazing around the track come race day.