Whether it was a trip to the then-St. Clairsville Speedway on a Friday evening, racing go-karts at the Moundsville Fairgrounds or sitting on pit wall at a NASCAR race, I’ve done all those things. (Heck, I remember when Richard Petty truly was “the King.”) It’s probably not surprising that I had the desire to stop watching or being a part of the pit crew and start driving.
For a sports car nut or a racing enthusiast who wants to go fast, I’ve found that there are many options to choose from in a driving experience or racing school.
My first inclination was to do a Richard Petty Driving Experience in an actual Nextel Cup Car. My dad had the opportunity for such at Kentucky Motor Speedway and absolutely loved it. He raced eight laps against the clock and at the day’s conclusion had photos of his experience, along with a sheet that outlined lap times and speeds. One of the nice things about the Petty program is there are several packages from which to choose. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend, you can still participate with an abbreviated number of laps. Or, if you just want to feel what it’s like to go fast, but not be behind the wheel, a ride-along is available for around $100. The Richard Petty Driving Experience is available at a number of the speedways throughout the United States where the big guys actually race. Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett and Mario Andretti also have similar driving adventures.
As my husband shopped for the driving experience gift certificate that became my Christmas gift, he began by looking at the packages available at Petty. With further research, he found that if he incorporated my love of the Corvette with the driving school, I’d spend more time behind the wheel in the Corvette Racing Adventures Level 1 program for comparable money to other schools with less drive time. At the conclusion of my day with Corvette Racing Adventures, I completed nearly 60 laps on the track, not including the braking, control and accident avoidance exercises that were conducted early in the course. Corvette Racing Adventures also has advanced classes — Levels 2, 3 and 4 — that build on the skills developed in previous sessions. The advanced levels can be taken at later dates.
While I did receive a photo of my experience during “graduation,” an overview of lap times and speeds was not available. Corvette Racing Adventures focused on making class participants smooth drivers, as opposed to encouraging us to go fast. Instructor David Zubick told us that if we are smooth drivers, the speed comes.
Those looking to become drivers for a day should shop around, as many driving adventures/schools are available. It just depends on what is most important to you. Do you want to drive a Nextel Cup or Indy car, or are you a sports car buff? Do you prefer a road course or an oval track? And, perhaps the biggest factor of all — how much can you spend? I assure you, though, there’s something out there for everyone.
Randy and Michele Rejonis relax between