The Richard Petty Driving Experience in Las Vegas
My heart is pounding. I can barely contain myself. I am literally inches away from a NASCAR vehicle and a track to drive it on. My jumpsuit and helmet are making me feel like the real pro, but my inexperience shows as they ask me to jump in the car. Wait the car has no doors, so how do I get in? Lift left leg first through the opening for the window… oy, I should have stretched.
Let me go back a few weeks. In November we made plans to visit Las Vegas, by now a family tradition of visiting the oasis in the desert. The intention is to go visit my wife’s cousin and her daughter that live there; but we manage to squeeze in one unique experience each time. Each experience till now has been meticulously researched and planned by my wife. Year after year, I have brought up ideas (none of them won her over).
But each year, one item on the list never changed. That was the NASCAR driving experience in a real NASCAR vehicle. It has always been fascinating for me to sit in a car that goes that fast around the track. Mind you, I would want a professional driver to do the laps, and for me to just sit and enjoy the experience. I can just imagine myself getting on the track and going 65 MPH and signaling at every turn. When we got to Las Vegas my wife surprised me with the announcement that she had made reservations at the Richard Petty Driving Experience.
I had the option of driving one of their vehicles or do a ride-along and sit in an authentic NASCAR vehicle and do laps at around 165 MPH. I was so excited that like a little kid around Christmas, I kept asking when the appointment was. Finally the day arrived. First, the fine folks at Richard Petty Driving Experience sent us a shuttle that picked us up at the hotel. So cool! I didn’t have to drive there (and most likely get lost on the way, and miss my appointment).
Short drive later, as I chatted with a nice couple from Connecticut, discussing things to do in Las Vegas (sounding like an expert, only because the wife took me to all these places to begin with). When we got to the race track (yes a real race track) the sound of the race cars going around the track surrounded us. Excitement had reached an all time high, as I forgot about the wife and kids and ran into the building closest to the shuttle. Guess what? That wasn’t where I should have gone. The nice lady pointed me to the truck by the race track where I could suit up and do my laps. So by now, I could not focus on anything but getting to the truck.
My poor wife wanted to take some pictures of me with the kids near the track, but I had no time for that. I get to the truck, and they handed me a USB key that would tape my experience. From there, I suited up and put a helmet on. I was getting ready for my car to arrive and at that moment, I realize that I should have gone to the bathroom before suiting up. I have never driven that fast, but I suspected that an empty bladder was better than a full one. Finally the man on the race track motioned for me to come towards the vehicle. I jumped (Ok I carefully stepped over) the divider and walk with as much grace as I can muster to the car. They got me ready and said, I can now get in the car. That is when I realized that there are no doors to these cars. Yes, I knew that NASCAR vehicles had no doors, but my mind wasn’t processing these facts properly. So I stretched my left leg over into the car and slid in. Oh that was fun.
Perhaps I can get into my car like that in the mornings. My driver Mike, noticing my nervousness tried to relax me, by introducing himself and asking about me. It worked great. I began to go into full detail about South Orange County when he floors the gas pedal and we are off! The driving experience is amazing, you are going super fast (reaching speeds up to 165 MPH), but with their drivers, I never felt anything but secure. I enjoyed the laps, as Mike even did some driving close to the walls. When my rounds ended, I got out of the car and walked back to the area to drop off my helmet and jumpsuit. That is when I noticed my wobbly legs.
Afterwards, I got a picture of myself in full gear and the racing car. The video was available as well, it shows the race track and your facial expression as you go around the track. Our shuttle took us back to the hotel and if I could, I would have jumped back on it for another turn. The Richard Petty Driving Experience is a very unique experience in Las Vegas and well worth your time next time you visit. To learn more about the The Richard Petty Driving Experience or to book your unique experience, please visit their website.
We visited as a guest of the venue
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