25 January 2010

Hot Laps Around The World

Hot Laps Around The World
Tony Caggiano

Since I started officially writing articles on my exploration of Walt Disney World over a year ago, I have always prided my self on one recommendation above all…SLOW DOWN. Today, I am going to tell you just the opposite. With Disney’s recent introduction of a free ride along at the Richard Petty Driving Experience, I began to think about just how much fun it was to SPEED UP, if only for a little while.

Back in the summer of 1998, I was fortunate enough to have taken part in the Rookie Experience at the Petty Driving Experience. They offer a few different packages over at the Walt Disney World Speedway, this one was one of the shorter offerings, but even at just around 10 laps or so, it was an afternoon I would not soon forget.

First, you are taken to a classroom where you begin your experience with the traditional signing your “life” away. Not really, but you are required to sign a release form and acknowledge the fact that you are participating in a dangerous activity. Once the formalities of the legal end were out of the way, we sat down and watched a brief video and had some instruction on how everything would “go down” by an instructor, who himself was an actual stock car driver. We then donned our Nomex fire suits and headed out the door..Outside, we were loaded into a van which was taken for a few laps around the speedway. When you are driving at 40 miles per hour around the track, you would swear that the van was about to tip over any second. After our instructional drive around the track, we headed for pit row, where we put on our helmets and headed towards our stock cars

On this sultry July afternoon, with a temperature approaching 95 degrees, the cockpits of these race cars made it feel like you were climbing down into the depths of Hades. But, once you flipped that switch and heard the roar of the 700 horsepower engines…all of that was forgotten.

The driving experience itself was not very long. Including warm-up laps, it lasted about 20 minutes…but it was twenty minutes I can recall clearly, even now, twelve years later. Over the course of my “hot” laps (those other than the warm-up and cool down laps), I averaged a speed of around 119 MPH with a fastest top speed of 128 MPH.

I would highly recommend the Petty Driving Experience to anyone, whether a fan of racing or not. It is quite simply a wonderful life experience. This is one of those rare times that I would advise each and every visitor to throw my old rule out the window, don’t even think about slowing down…just GO FAST!!!

For more information you can visit the Richard Petty Driving Experience.

1 comment:

Princess Fee said...

How interesting! I don't know if I'll ever experience this, so thank you for sharing with us!!