NASCAR: A Day At The Rock

On Saturday June 10th I went to SpeedTech's stock car racing school at The Rock in Rockingham, NC. SpeedTech is run by Randy Baker, a super nice guy with a fabulously friendly and fun staff. Yes, Randy is Buddy Baker's brother -- so he's been in and around racing for quite some time, and he shared a lot of his experience while making sure we all had a great time.

What a BLAST! As a rabid NASCAR racing fan and an experienced online racer this experience has given me a whole new outlook on NASCAR racing and the drivers that make it look so easy. I met a bunch of great people, and like NASCAR fans everywhere we all had a ball talking about racing and life in general. Special thanks go to Deanna at SpeedTech who made everything easy and fun, and the Gregory family, whom I met at the crack of dawn when I couldn't sleep anymore and went on out to the track.

We started with a short class followed by a few laps in the van with Randy showing us the line. Then we got into the cars with an instructor for 3-4 laps to get checked out on procedures. The real solo sessions began next and we worked on driving a smooth consistent line while steadily increasing speed. We did this all day until everyone got in their solo laps.

The noise was awesome -- Papyrus's Nascar3 simulator really has poor audio when compared to the real thing. The most amazing thing was the G forces in the corners. The car just squats down while you literally are riding the rib protector on the right side of the driver's seat. There's just no way to hold yourself up. Also, the track has cracks in it that you never experience in the simulator -- these cracks definitely upset the car's smooth ride. That's why in Nascar3 drivers can cut right down the front straight of the Rock but at the real track you want to stay high up by the wall where the groove is smooth. Nascar4 has a very long way to go to do an even half-decent job based on available PC technology.

After my solo laps I went on the 3-lap ride of a lifetime with Randy Baker, and boy was that an eye opener. Although we felt fast we were nowhere near the limits of the car. As Randy flew us around the track I gained a whole new respect for NASCAR drivers. Withstanding the G forces and heat while driving door to door with 42 other guys is almost inconceivable once you've experienced a ride at full speed. Whoever says drivers are not athletes needs to try this out.

Me in The Intimidator's Car!