There are SO many track days around these days but one thing I never thought I’d be able to do was drive a NASCAR (or Stock Car as they’re officially known) here in the UK. So you could imagine my surprise when I received an email asking if I wanted to drive one… I said yes, obviously.
The event was organised by American Race Car Experience, who run driving experience days around the oval circuit at Rockingham Motor Speedway in Corby. That’s right, you can do it too, whether it’s for a corporate event, a Stag Do or you just want to pretend you’re Tom Cruise in Days of Thunder.
Speaking of Days of Thunder, ARCX’s Blair Dupree who runs these experience days built cars for that very film as well as Talledega Nights, so there’s a good chance you could end up driving one of them… there’s even one painted up in the full #46 Cole Trickle livery.
After a bit of briefing from Blair, it was time for the high-speed passenger ride. Now it should be said that I was already shit scared at this point and was still wondering how on earth they allow the general public to drive these beasts.
As I was ready to jump in – and by jump I mean awkwardly attempt to get my large legs through the open window – F1 journo and former GP2 commentator Will Buxton had just finished his passenger ride. The look on his face made me feel no better about my turn and as Will went to get behind the wheel himself, I was being driven around the track for three exhilarating laps at full-speed by professional driver and instructor, Sam.
Inches from the wall we completed three laps before I had to walk down the pit lane (legs and arms still shaking) towards the #7 GoDaddy liveried machine once driven by Danica Patrick herself. Here was where I realised I am a fair bit taller than Danica but eventually I got into the race seat and was strapped in ready to go.
Now normally on track days there’s a guy sat next to you ready to save your life if anything goes wrong but not here. Instead you have a spotter, Rob, who is sat up in the stands giving you instructions via an earpiece, this only adds further to the experience in making you feel like a real racing driver and I’ll be honest, it felt so damn cool having someone as a spotter.
Once I got a little more confident behind the wheel (the car was amazingly planted) I gave it full throttle, or gas as the American’s say, down the start-finish straight where I bounced off the rev-limiter.
The cars were capped at 155 mph for obvious reasons, one being the massive concrete wall all the way around the track, but I was more than happy to have reached the top speed and still be alive to write this blog post about it.
And as if that all wasn’t enough, there was a 360 degree camera recording the whole thing… thankfully I kept all my girlish screams in my head.
A huge thanks to American Race Car Experience for the unbelievable experience, check out their website if you’re interested in having a go yourself!