143 MPH With Me At The Wheel


It’s safe to say Helaine’s birthday gift to me was an unforgettable experience.  I didn’t know that when I got it, but it’s obvious today after 18 laps around the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in a 600 HP NASCAR stock car.

Oh my God! I hit 142.85 MPH in a 42.24 second lap that averaged 127.85 MPH.  This is the Richard Petty Experience!

Helaine and Stef came along to bolster my confidence and watch my drive.  We arrived, sat through a few safety briefings then onto the track. A professional driver is in the right seat with a second throttle control.

Like a real NASCAR racer this one is configured pull left. That means you fight it a little to find your line high up on the bank going into the sharp turns.

I was feeling a little apprehensive as I climbed in and was harnessed tight.  I stalled out in first gear while initially leaving the pits.  I also went directly from first to fourth gear. Oops.

My only other major error was forgetting to let off the throttle once I was comfortable enough to go high in a banked turn.  My instructor, Mark Skinner, did it for me.

I consider these slipups minor. Once I was driving I was at ease.  I never felt the car was out of my control or even close.

I have a newfound respect for NASCAR drivers. This is exhausting work… and I was on a mostly empty track.

There are stills and in cockpit video, but without my laptop there’s no way to download them. I’ll get them on ASAP.

This was a once in a lifetime experience I’ll never forget. 

What a birthday gift!

6 thoughts on “143 MPH With Me At The Wheel”

  1. Very cool. My father and I go to Loudon, NH every June to drive the track with the Petty Driving Experience; although the speeds are much lower because the track isn’t banked as much. We’ll be in Florida in October and are hoping to drive Daytona.

  2. Had a similar experience two years ago for my 60th birthday,courtesy of my wife and daughter-in-law. Mine was from Al Lane’s Racing School at the Thompson Motor Speedway. Not sure if your drive was like mine, but mine was an actual 20-lap race against four other drivers, plus each driver was in the car him (or her) self with a one-way headset under the helmet so the “crew” can talk to the drivers while the race is going on. Funny and a bit scary how the crew actually choreograph the movement of the cars (you need permission to pass a slower car) while everyone is driving over 100 mph. An incredible rush (esp coming in first place); something I never felt driving a car before, but then again I never drove at 145 mph before. It was wild and I really want to do it again, but at a longer track.

  3. see they made changes , when i drove 6 years ago you were in the car by yourself and had total control. I stalled it coming off pit road also the first time.

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