I live about 20 miles from Texas Motor Speedway, and a few years ago I had the opportunity to ride a in a pace car around the NASCAR race track. I can say with complete honesty that it was an experience I will never forget.
I had been writing about a race weekend that would be taking place at the speedway in about three weeks, and I had the opportunity to speak to a former driver. He told me that he was looking forward to the weekend and said that a lot of the top drivers would be there, and in the course of the conversation, I happened to mention to him that I had always wondered what it was like to drive on a NASCAR race track.
He told me that it pretty much felt like riding in a pace car, except it was a little bit faster and, of course, you were driving yourself. Not being that familiar with NASCAR, I asked him what a pace car was, and he seemed to go into shock.
“You’ve never ridden in a pace car?” he asked.
I told him that I had not, and he immediately invited me down to the speedway to allow me to do just that, and even said that he personally would drive me around the track.
I could feel my heart pumping about a million beats a minute as I drove to the speedway, and I really wondered what I had gotten myself into. He was waiting there for me with a big smile on his face and said I was about to go for a ride I would never forget.
Now, the Texas Motor Speedway has a number of tracks, but we went to the actual NASCAR race track to do the pace car ride.
It started out innocently enough, but within a few seconds, were going well over 100 miles an hour and I was scared out of my mind. It felt almost as if we were not in control of the car, but he seemed totally at ease as he casually turned each lap. Eventually, I settled down and really ended up enjoying the ride.
He asked me how I liked it, and I told him that, while it took some getting used to, I did really enjoy myself and would not mind doing it again some time. He said that a lot of people had the same kind of reaction to riding in a pace car that I did.
I have not ridden in one since, and I really have not even been to a NASCAR race track since that ride. I agreed to switch beats with another writer who was a huge NASCAR fan and who had been in a pace car a number of times. While I don’t know if I will ever get to ride in another pace car, I sure did enjoy it the time I did.