Friday, April 17, 2009
The roar of the rubber, the smell of the crowd, the smoke
The roar of the rubber, the smell of the crowd, the smoke, the noise, the thrills! Last night had it all! I took my Corvette out onto the quarter-mile track at Infineon Raceway and opened it up. Tim Jeffreys challenged me to a grudge match, and I couldn’t refuse. Let me say right now, this is the most fun I’ve had in years.
If you’ve never seen Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California, it’s a beautiful facility. They host the NASCAR Winston Cup, NHRA, Superbike, and the American LaMans Series. When it comes to racing, these guys really know what they’re doing.
I’d like to thank all the good people at Infineon Raceway for taking care of us and letting us participate in their Wednesday night drags. The quarter-mile track awaited, all lit up and stretched out like an asphalt ribbon of broken dreams. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous.
I’d never raced before. In fact, I’d never even opened the ‘Vette up all the way before. When I saw “opened up” I mean in a way you never could on city streets. As you may know, I’ve gotten way too many speeding tickets of late (3 in 4 months) and my lead foot has gotten me into considerable trouble. So, the good folks at Infineon Raceway came to the rescue saying, “Go as fast as you want! It’s legal here! Go nuts!”
So, when the smoke cleared, I found myself in front of the staging lights, gunning my engine, waiting for the green light. Tim was on my right; I could see his white knuckles on the steering wheel. His Mercedes would be no match for my ‘Vette, I knew, but they had handicapped the race and given him a head start. I took a deep breath and when the green light went on, I floored it. In fact, that was my only strategy, floor it and keep it floored and don’t let up until the finish line flew past. Tires squealed, the smell of burning rubber filled my nostrils, and I was off!
Neck-snapping acceleration pinned me back in my seat as the Corvette exploded off the line. Hurtling through the night air toward the finish line, I passed Tim in a heartbeat and did my best to keep the car from getting bent out of shape. I fishtailed a little, but the ‘Vette is born to race, and all I did was hang on and let the car do it’s thing. I could see the finish line rapidly approaching ahead and kept my foot on the accelerator until it flashed behind me. I was so caught up in the moment and the adrenalin surge that I forgot to glance down at the speedometer the first time I ran. As I rounded the course and headed back, I saw my top speed for the first time. I hit just under 110 mph at the end of the quarter-mile and traversed that distance in a brisk 13.114 seconds! What a rush! Official speed: 109.70! Ye-haa!
I’ve always wanted to do that, but I never had the chance until now. Later, driving home, doing the speed limit felt like I was going about 20 mph.
Next time I’m tempted to go 100 mph on the freeway, I’ll remember the feeling I got on the straightaway last night and I will SLOW DOWN and save it for the race track. I’d advise you to do the same. Those speeding tickets are expensive!