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Old 04-12-2015, 08:52 PM   #1
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What weighs 2200 lbs and has 465 hp and took me 120mph?



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….
[video:youtube]
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Old 04-12-2015, 09:54 PM   #2
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Looks like fun. I did the Skip Barber performance driving course, also a gift. It was held at Limerock CT. If you think you know how to get out of a skid, wait until you try the skid pad. Steer into the skid my ass. That's just half the equation. Let me know how that works for you. BTW, is this a thread drift or a 4 wheel drift?
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Old 04-12-2015, 10:36 PM   #3
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Here are two videos that didn't make the first post.
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Old 04-12-2015, 10:40 PM   #4
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Here's the third video.
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Old 04-12-2015, 11:16 PM   #5
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Years ago, I did the NASCAR Experience at California Sppedway in Fontana. CA. Top sped about 150- it was a huge amount of fun!
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Old 04-12-2015, 11:56 PM   #6
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Looks like fun! Years ago I did 2 advanced driver training courses held on racetracks, learnt to put a number of techniques together to go faster safely, especially around corners. Best thing is those skills can get you out of trouble on the road,using defensive actions from skills learned, to avoid someone doing something really stupid.
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Old 04-13-2015, 12:35 AM   #7
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Attended the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving at Sears Point in 1980. Crossle Formula Fords at that time. Some of the most fun I have ever had.

I would love to do something like that again, but I seriously doubt anyone could shoehorn me into one of those cars anymore.
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Old 04-13-2015, 07:48 AM   #8
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Richard Petty Driving Experience at Chicagoland Speedway 6-7 years ago. What a blast! Had to steer right to go left the first couple laps until they let you "get up to speed" as bank on track overpowered the speed. You think climbing through the window would be as easy as it looks on TV...well not so much. My 6'4" frame and 200+ pounds didn't go in all that easy! The first ride along laps with the driver were something. They prided themselves in seeing how close they could get you to the wall without wincing! At 150MPH+ it seemed like a 1/4 inch! Then two sessions of about 8 laps each on your own. Top speed about 140. FUN!
Then the wife's Vette on a local road track for "test and tune". Just under a 2 mile flat track with 12 turns. Fun but tough on clutch, brakes and tires!
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Old 04-13-2015, 02:38 PM   #9
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I was a cop for many years and loved doing the Emergency Vehicle Operation Course (EVOC). After the training part was done we got to chase the instructor around the course. He wanted to see if he could lose me (he never was able to) then we turned the tables and he wanted to see if I could lose him (again--didn't happen). It was a lot of fun and we were able to let all that HIP go to work.

The speeds we reached on this course weren't all that high due to the rev limiter chip and also the short 1-mile track. Still a lot of fun but I wished we'd have been on a longer track without the rev limiter.
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Old 04-13-2015, 05:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GFC View Post
I was a cop for many years and loved doing the Emergency Vehicle Operation Course (EVOC). After the training part was done we got to chase the instructor around the course. He wanted to see if he could lose me (he never was able to) then we turned the tables and he wanted to see if I could lose him (again--didn't happen). It was a lot of fun and we were able to let all that HIP go to work.

The speeds we reached on this course weren't all that high...
I hear ya GFC...While still on duty, I was one of those that folks like you chased, and vice versa.

Held most of the classes at a local speedway with an adjacent 1/4 mile track.

The track was relatively short, and we used the infield roads to make it more "interesting. "

While there were certainly more than a few white knuckle moments with recruits and a few others that should probably never be allowed to wash an emergency vehicle much less operate one, the majority of it was a hoot!!
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