Monk Recalls Riding Around Talladega Superspeedway at 185mph
As we look forward to another exciting race weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, I'm reminded of that one time I got to experience what Dale Jr. experiences.
Four or five years ago, our radio station was asked if we'd like to ride the track at Talladega with the Dale Jarrett Racing Experience and I jumped at the chance!
We arrived at the track early that morning and I was bursting with excitement at the chance to drive a race car around the famed track I had watched my favorite drivers race for years.
When we parked, we were immediately ushered into a building for our "driver's meeting" to learn the ins and outs of the track before suiting up. They showed a video and went through what we're not to do when we're strapped in behind the wheel. Got it! Still bursting with excitement we exited the meeting and headed to the track.
The second I walked out of the door and was face to face with NASCAR's fastest track, my excitement turned to fear. The massive size of the 2.66 mile monster was intimidating enough but some of the student drivers were already on the track and I hadn't prepared myself for how fast those cars would really be going.
I was fitted with a fire suit and was continually asked if I was going to be a driver or a rider. I could either drive with an experienced crew member beside me or I could be a passenger as they drove. I kept saying, "I'm driving." That is until it was time to get behind the wheel. Then fear took over. "I want to be a passenger!" I exclaimed loudly. I did not face my fear that day and it's something I've regretted since, but on with the story.
In my new role as a passenger I was asked to hop through the window of the UPS Ford. Once inside, I felt like ten pounds of sugar in a five pound sack. The cockpit was cramped, the seat too small for my rear and the technicians couldn't get my safety belt fastened. I was taken out of that car and moved to one that had a bigger seat. My almost 6'3 frame was larger than the normal driver I suppose.
So I jumped in the new car, was belted up and we were off! y driver stats jerking the car from side-to-side to warm the tires up and at that moment, I was freaking out. I started having hot flashes and maybe even worried about having a panic attack but no time for that. We were up on the track and before I knew it my body was thrust into the seat and we took off!
The first mile and a half was an invigorating experience as the car gained speed. About the time I was feeling comfortable, we were face to face with the track going Lord knows how fast on its 33 degree banking. Coming out of turn four, the car righted itself and we were burning up asphalt headed for turn one.
We must have been going extremely fast nd I figured my driver was breaking some rules because we were passing everyone. I was excited and laughing as the adrenaline pumped through my veins until we were actually in the turn again. All I could image was, "What if this guy loses control and we shoot straight to the top of the track and go over the top?" Needless to say that didn't happen but as quickly as it all began, so it ended.
I got out of the car and asked the driver how fast we were going. He responded, "Probably about 185 mph."
I regret not driving that day but I'm glad to have had the crazy story to tell.