Dodge Challenger Forum banner

1 - 7 of 7 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
675 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
After the fastest 20 miles in my life (on the ground), my vocabulary was limited to one word…WOW !!! for quite some time. My drive was made possible via the "Richard Petty Driving Experience" and $438 of the best dollars I ever spent in my life.
I've been a fan of Richard's and NASCAR for over 50 years. I also followed Formula One since the sixties, along with SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) events and the runs on the salt at Bonneville. Basically, if it is powered by an engine and goes fast... i'm in.
The only racing I have participated in is drag racing (60's to current with the Challenger). I always speculated what it would would be like, and how well I would perform in the various forms of racing. The only form of racing I could never see myself doing is motorcycle, you know the kind, the one that you lay the bike over on your knee going around a turn. I'm still fixated when I watch that.
The one thing that I found out after driving Daytona, is that I could NEVER- NEVER- EVER have driven NASCAR professionally !!! I have instantly developed about a 500% higher degree of respect for NASCAR professionals. One of the main things that kept going around in my head afterward, was I was alone on the track…flash to a car along side (sometimes two) - another on the rear bumper - not to mention the one thats almost touching the front bumper. Now, duplicate that for six rows in front and eight behind you. Let me tell you people…this is FURREEKING INSANE !
The car I drove is a Petty prepared NASCAR race car. Yes you have to get in through the window, in your official driving suit, with a miked helmet (so that your "instructor" who rides with you can tell you what to do…and not do). And Yes, you get strapped in (very tightly), and your helmet gets restraints attached (left - right movement) and a rearward motion restrictor put on the back of it. The steering wheel is snapped on and the "Petty Curtain" (Richard's mother hand sewed the first one) is fixed to your side window. This is all done amazingly quickly so you don't get a chance to yell MOMEEEE !!
The real reality has just set in…I'm in an honest to God race car, on the track at Daytona
and there gonna let me drive this thing…drive this thing…drive this…adrenalin overdose
is gushing in my brain, when the instructor says ready? I stall him by asking if I can run through the shift pattern. He OK's this. Car is 4-speed with a tall shifter (long reach between gears). That done, he instructs me to depress the clutch hold it and put it in first. He has the start button (and a fuel shut off and a governor control). He then calls to get permission to go. They set a GPS speed recording system for the car, and the OK is given.
He says he's going to start the car and fires all 600 ready to go, fire breathing, straight piped, lopey camed, NASCAR race engined horsepower. He does. Even with the helmet on, this thing blots out all thought except his voice in my ear and he says whenever your ready take it out, i will tell you when to shift and you should be in fourth by the Sunoco sign down there.
Right after "down there" is the first turn after you normally see them get the green flag. "Down there" is a 31 degree banked hill you can hardly walk up.
I pull out smoothly, but gettin busy fast. My Challenger R/T is ProCharged, so acceleration is not foreign to me, but this thing is pulling like King Kong is pushing.
In fourth passing the Sunoco sign and here comes turn one…remember that 31 degree banked turn…EXCEPT it has just turned into an asphalt wall that curves to the left.
Everything that controls the first law of nature (self preservation) in me is screaming NO WAY !!!
I mini freak (actually major freak) shortly after steering on the wall, and back off the gas.
Car heads down wall..fast, He in my ear instructs loudly - GAS! GAS! GAS!
My foot obeys and car comes up by the end of the wall ( turn 2 ).
Out of turn 2 is the back stretch (longest straight of track), I am WOT since getting out of 2.
Instructor has me move up toward the wall - car is rocketing down the back straight. The combination of the speed and the sound inside the car is the whole world and it is beyond a word description.
I move down coming into turn three and back off gas a little. Mistake. Instructor says see what happened? You slowed - next time stay in it and up on the track. as he was instructing I was back WOT coming out of turn 4 and ripping down the front straight, at the same time i'm thinking at the end of this the "asphalt wall" (turn 1) is coming again, and i'm going a lot faster than the first time…
Instructor is saying HOLD - HOLD to start the turn, I don't and turn early entering low and loosing speed but don't get out of it like the first time. Listening to instruction on what I did wrong again I'm WOT coming out of turn 2 to that wonderful long back straight. This time I'm ready to go WOT all the way and into turn 3 up high all the way still WOT out of turn 4 and all the way down front straight to turn 1 (the wall) again.
I'm positioned well and given the instruction to HOLD - HOLD - HOLD, again I turn early just as he started to say the next hold HOLD. Kind instruction was issued to "relax and wait for his call next time".
This time I'm WOT after turn 2 all the way back straight thru turn 3&4 heading to the dreaded turn 1.
I resign myself to HOLD this time (WOT) until I get the TURN instruction to which I had previously started early.
Here we go…HOLD - HOLD - HOLD - HOLD and when it appeared we were going to drive into the bank at the last instant he instructed…TURN - TURN - MORE! - MORE! and from my personal perspective somehow the car miraculously stuck and whipped out of turn 2 under WOT into that wonderful back straight again.
I did the turn 1 - 2 combo, I think two more times successfully, but not a fan!
All to soon coming out of turn 4, I was instructed to back off gas and bring car down the track and over the double yellow lines, tap brakes twice to make sure they work, then clutch, select neutral and coast about 1/4 mile to the start point and stop.
Hard to say what the first thoughts were, I really don't think there were any. I think my concentration level just went to neutral…or evaporated in a puff of adrenal last gasp and was replaced completely with the totality of the experience. First word however was a controlled, subdued, happy... wow.

RESULTS:*

LAP# LAP TIME AVG MPH TOP SPEED
1 WARM UP
2 65.57 137.26 147
3 64.14 140.31 150
4 63.09 142.66 153
5 62.90 143.09 153
6 62.65 143.66 154
7 62.75 143.42 153
8 COOL DOWN

TOP SPEED 154

* DAYTONA is 2 1/2 miles long, start to finish

HATS OFF, BENDING SMARTLY AT THE WASTE, FOR A BOW TO THE RICHARD PETTY ORGANIZATION FOR A COMPLETELY PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE…FROM START TO FINISH (pun intended).

ONE OF THE BEST THINGS I HAVE EVER DONE.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,456 Posts
Very cool you did that. One of many experiences in life that will never be forgotten. The first time I ran the AAA speedway here in Fontana was a blast. My first time on an oval track. Well, half of an oval. Lol. The track was setup as a 2 nascar turns and the infield. It was a blast. And the most fun out of most of the tracks I've been to. The nascar turns were intimidating. Nobody wanted to run high but I was told that's where you wanna be by a former nascar instructor that was there that day. After you cross the start line you're going about 129 or so at redline top of 4th gear. Shift into 5th gear and I was able to push it all the way to 150 before braking and getting ready to take a hard 90* left turn onto the infield. Hers a little video of that day. It was an amazing experience. Very few had the cojones to get up there including myself.
https://youtu.be/rokrNMVUy0o


Sent from AutoGuide.com Free App
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
811 Posts
WOW that sounds like FUN!! :thumbsup::thumbsup:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
675 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the ride WASP ! That looks like a great track. Good to see a Challenger run like yours, always liked your informed comments and information here.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
56 Posts
AWESOME.
Since your willing to spend $450 bucks, are you willing to take YOUR car on a track? If so, look into a NASA program in your area. Jon Felton runs them and for the same money you can run various tracks ALL WEEKEND with an instructor in the car. Classroom instruction is also provided and you'll learn tons about getting your car around a track quickly. I took my first class (HPDE 1) 5 years ago in an SRT8 after a number of weekends decided to buy a complete racecar and now W2W race regularly. The people at the track are great to be around and everyone is extremely helpful.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
675 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
You are right. Race car people are a great bunch. Most will help with advice, spare parts and in some cases labor - and then go compete against the same person they helped. The NASA program you mention sounds fantastic. The more people that are properly exposed to the sport, the better and bigger it will be.
For me, the R/T 6M is set up to go straight. If I were to go twisty, it would only be with a fully dedicated car as you have now. Too many things would be necessary for me to be comfortable using the daily driver; i.e. cage, tires, fire systems, harness, fuel cell, shocks etc I know it can be done relatively stock and have a good time, but for me it would just be a steady progression of additions to make it better - you know…"the disease".
That was the beauty of the Petty Experience, the car is a completely set up and maintained NASCAR style race car. I feel more anxious getting into a rental car not knowing anything about it ( wife had the front wheel come off on one).
 
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
Top