This started in December of 2013 when GW bought me a she got me a certificate for a drive one of Mario Andretti’s Formula race cars for Christmas. This was through the Mario Andretti Racing Experience. Mario Andretti Racing
We had trouble getting our schedule to match when they would be at PIR so we had to make a special trip to Phoenix to do the ride. So fast forward to April 12, 2015 and there I was behind the wheel calmly (?) cruising around the race track at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR).
It was an 75* day with a high thin overcast and no wind. Perfect. We got to the track around 9:15 and I was to start my driver’s training session at 10:00. Getting there early gave me a chance to check out the cars and watch some of the drivers from the earlier session take their turns (get it—turns? As in left turns?) on the track.
It seemed like forever before the group I was in to start. There were about 50 of us in the group. First we met with the crew chief to learn the basics of the cars and how to drive them safely on the track. PIR is a 1-mile track so there weren’t going to be any great speeds. The straightaways are short and you're on the gas then off the gas and through them in a matter of seconds and headed into the corners.
Here I got my fireproof driver’s suit
then went to the training session.
I have to admit that when it came time to get in the car I was feeling some butterflies. GW’s question about the amount of my life insurance policy didn’t help any. But it came time to get in and I must tell you those things are REALLY small and not made to fit guys my size. When I got in I realized real fast there is not a bit of extra room. GW was my “team photographer” and got a pretty good video of them getting me strapped in and adjusted.
These cars are started by pushing them. You’re in gear with the clutch held down and a quad runner comes up behind to give you a push. Safety is number one n the track and that is stressed repeatedly during the training session and also when you’re in the car. The entire time you’re in the car you’re in radio contact with your own individual track spotter. He tells when to merge into traffic when to accelerate or slow down etc.
Here are a few pics that GW took and I’ll add a couple of videos when they finish loading.
Getting fitted for my helmet. Under the helmet there is a "head scarf" so you don't get anyone else's cooties and also a pair of ear buds so your instructor/spotter can communicate with you.
Getting into the car….