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The NASCAR Experience....

The NASCAR ExperienceI was at our annual business conference for the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association in Las Vegas in November. It is a huge event with lots to learn and tons of people to see, but normally pretty staid and all business, even in Las Vegas.

This year I had an opportunity to add some excitement. Goodyear offered me the opportunity to drive a full fledged NASCAR Winston Cup series race car at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Wow, what a ride! Fifteen students were in the class. We were given ground school training before we were allowed to drive. Then we each went on a "ride along" with one of the professional drivers at full race speeds. That ride gave me a real respect for the power and handling of the car. LVMS is a 1-1/2 mile banked oval track. Cup Cars (as they call them) grip like slot cars. I don't think they would let go at 30 or 40 mph higher corner speeds. In our first drive we each got a chance to drive 8 laps behind an instructor's lead car. We started at about 130 mph on the first lap. We worked up to 135 mph on the 8th lap. Then we had a post session briefing. The second session was again 8 laps. This time we worked up to as much as 142 mph for those who could keep up. (I hit 142 mph, of course.)

These are very powerful cars. Lots of throttle left at 142 mph. And no radar trap. I wanted more. The advanced course allows more speeds. As they say, you can't be too pretty or have too much money, or have too much fun. This was close.

The advanced course allows more laps and higher speeds. I sure would like to go back! The track is located just north of Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas. Just to add a bit more drama, all afternoon during our time at the track, the Air Force Pilots were flying F15, A10 and Mirage jets. They were doing touch-and-goes and flying directly over the raceway.

Dick Hedahl


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January 4 2002 || www.hedahls.com/nascar.html