Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Stock Car Racing Experience at Pocono Raceway

Photo Credit The NASCAR Corner

Everyone wants to know what it feels like to go 165mph during a NASCAR race, but how many people actually get the chance to?  Unless you go to a Ride Along or Driving Experience program, you’ll never know.  I can’t say that I’ve never done that after my amazing experience at Pocono Raceway yesterday. 

If you’re near the Pocono area, or want to do a Ride Along/Driving Experience and don’t know what track to go to, why not go to the 2.5-mile, tri-oval Pocono!  It’s one of the most distinct tracks on the NASCAR circuit with only three turns, consisting of 14 degrees, 8 degrees, and 6 degrees of banking.  The straight-aways are distinct because they are so long (3,055 feet, 1,780 feet, and 3,740 feet). 

We arrived at Pocono Raceway for my Ride Along and at first, I was a little apprehensive; “What if I couldn’t get in the car?” “What if I couldn’t get out of the car?” “What if the fire suit doesn’t fit?”…trivial things.  Once I put on the fire suit, helmet, and Hans device, as cliché as it’s going to sound, all the apprehension went away.  I was solely focused on enjoying every minute of my four-lap Ride Along. 

Do you want to know what it felt like? One word…awesome!  Let’s just say that if I didn’t like writing and the business side of NASCAR so much, I would want to drive.  Yep, that’s how truly awesome it was.  I was surprised at one thing; before I left, I calculated the approximate weight I was going to feel in the car as 74 pounds, but did I feel it? No, probably because you’re so strapped in and can’t move.  The high line was pretty bumpy, when you went into the Tunnel Turn, there was a big dip, but other than that, it was smooth sailing at 165mph!

Once I got out of the car, I was able to sit in the driver’s seat to take pictures and get a feel for how the drivers sit for two plus hours.  How they do it? I have no idea!  After I got out of my fire suit, Hans device,  and helmet, I had a once in a lifetime chance to go to Victory Lane to ask my driving instructor, Chris Marcho, some questions I had about the program and the cars.   
Me with Chris Marcho, my driving instructor.
Photo Credit The NASCAR Corner

I learned some valuable information about the 600-horsepower cars in the Stock Car Racing Experience programs.   The seventeen cars are all built new for the program, because if they were retired race cars, they would need all different parts, but if they had the same cars, they could use the same parts for any of the cars if any problems should arise.  Each car has a scheduled amount of miles it’s allowed to run before it’s retired; on average, one car is retired per year.   A question I was very curious about was how many times they need to refuel the cars each day.  “Three to four times a day; four times on a busy day.” Chris explained.  He also told me that they check the tires often (every six laps for Ride Along cars and every eight laps for Driving Experience cars) because that’s what they seem to have problems with because of the track, just like during the actual races. 

If you’re already at Pocono Raceway, why not spend the whole day there?  Pocono offers track tours to the curious race fans every Monday through Friday from 10a.m. to 4p.m. and on certain Saturdays from 10a.m. to 3p.m.  Call ahead of time to schedule your tour! 
Thumbs up for Pocono Raceway!
Photo Credit The NASCAR Corner

Thank you again to Pocono Raceway, Chris Marcho, and Steve Fox, the General Manager of Pocono's Stock Car Racing Experience, for this truly amazing experience that I will never forget!

Photo Credit The NASCAR Corner

To learn more about a Stock Car Racing Experience or a track tour, check the links posted below.

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