Monday, January 23, 2012

A day at New Smyrna Speedway!

A few weeks after Andy and I started dating (way back in the day), I had the brilliant idea of going skydiving. I had been wanting to do it for some time and no one was crazy enough to do it with me. I knew this was going to be a lasting relationship the moment we were both sitting in the tiny plane waiting to jump off. We have shared many high adrenaline experiences that have no doubt strengthened our pair-bond :)

Nowadays I tend to look at everything in a risk to reward ratio way and if the reward doesn't outperform the risk, the activity is out. Which generally means if the risk may = death, the activity is pretty well out (unless it's something like going into space or of equal awesomeness). So I was a little nervous when Andy's parents got us a racing day at New Smyrna Speedway. In my head, it was going to be a bunch of testosterone-filled 18 year old boys who were not going to lose to a girl and I sure as heck wasn't going to lose to them!! So my goal: win without dying!

The second thing I was nervous about was shifting. I know how to drive a stick shift but it's a different story to be doing it when going really fast on an oval track! I had done drag racing before (with 18 year old testosterone filled boys) and I remember how crazy it was just to be going really fast down a straight road! Everything else in sight pretty much disappears and all you see is the road.

I was quite relieved when we got there and the crowd was older than I had anticipated. Actually we might have been among the youngest and there were even a couple of ladies. We started the day by buying some insurance and getting an hour long lesson of what do to. It turned out the shifting was much easier than we anticipated even though it was weird. There were actually two sticks (they looked like two aluminum rulers). Shift to first gear by pressing the far stick forward. Then bring that stick back and shift the second stick forward for second gear. Then the second stick goes back and you're in third gear. So why was it easy? once you got to third gear, you just stayed there. No more shifting!

They also had a pace car in front for the first few laps and made us practice passing each other and a guy on a radio told us what was happening, which was good because I couldn't take my eyes off the road to see what was behind me! The guy on the radio was great. If you got close too another car and wanted to pass, he would warn the car in the front so s/he didn't go too much to the outside and hit the car that is passing.

We got fitted into our cars. We had to climb through the window (doors? over rated) and the seat was crazy deep so they put in two cushions under me and two behind me so I could see out and reach the pedals. There were a total of four cars on the race track plus two pro cars. The pro cars took people for ride alongs and really showed off by going super fast and very close to the walls. We were told to let them pass and not try to mess with them!! We listened! When it was our turn, one of the cars ended up having a flat tire (reassuring) so there were only 3 cars (plus the pros). So it was Andy, myself and an older fellow.

I got car number 11 (green), which was super exciting because earlier one of the guys told us that was the fastest car! Yay! Andy got #12 (yellow) which was also super fast but a bit louder than mine. Also, I was the first one off the line, then the old guy, then Andy. Andy passed me about 7 laps in (15 laps total) and we both passed the old guy a couple of times (I think overall we lapped the poor guy 3 or 4 times. He was going slow. The guy on the radio kept telling him: "at least drive like you're on the highway!" I felt a little bad for him.) The guy on the radio encouraged us to go fast when we were clear "Go 11, go 11, gogogo 11! (also go 12, go 12, gogogo 12)" and man, we were going fast! I floored it during the short straight parts and the corners as fast as I thought I could go without my arms falling off (holding the wheel was an arm workout!). After Andy passed me I knew I had to get him back. When radio man said "last lap" I just gunned it, zoomed by and resumed my place at the front of the line! Apparently Andy didn't know it was me and thought it was one of the pros (which is good because he might have not let me pass otherwise!).

Living in the south, I have gotten so my 'Yankee accent' isn't so obnoxious but immediately after getting out of the car I yelled to radio man: "Duuuuuuude! That was awesome! Thanks for all the 'Go eleven, go elevens!'" Yes. That is how I roll! Overall a great experience and a must do for anyone who likes to go fast. Thanks to (Andy's) Mom and Dad for this awesome Christmas gift! We both had a blast!