This final picture is when I am coming out of the tri-oval and in front of the grandstands. The stands at Talladega will seat 143,000 fans and thousands more roam more than 200 acres of infield. The superspeedway is 2.66 miles around and the turns are banked 33 degrees. If you did not take any more math than I did, then those number probably do not impress you much. Let me assure you that you could not walk up the banking in the turns without putting your hands on the pavement and bear crawling. They stand 4 stories tall and running toward the turn at 165-170 mph is a thrill ride unlike anything at any theme park.
Here are some observations I will be thinking about the next few days;
1) Men and women are different. Yes, I know that is profound and you probably never thought of it before. Here is how that played out at Talladega; there were 7 or 8 women driving out of about 80 drivers. I talked to one after we both had driven. By the way, she was driving because she had bought two driving packages for her husband and son, then her son was deployed to Iraq so she was driving and was more excited about it than her husband. I mentioned the extremely restrictive nature and was about to describe how uncomfortable that made me when she said "Yes, I really liked that. It made me feel much safer." She described the closing in process as being like having someone's arms around her and helped her relax. To me is was intrusive and seemed to take away much of my control. We agreed that the control issues were male and female perspectives.
2) Instincts can be helpful or harmful. If your instincts are based on incomplete information or faulty reasoning, they can do you harm. As a kid, my dad taught me to drive. Part of that education was about cornering and dad taught me to let off the gas when approaching a curve and gradually increase speed on exit from the curve. The driving instructors told us to keep the accelerator on the floor going into the turns and maintain the high line. I have thought about it about 24 hours now and I can not think of any time in my life that I had to fight any harder to overcome what seemed natural to me than when I approached the turns in this race car. Until you experience it yourself, I can not find the words to fully describe the natural urge to let off the gas when roaring into a turn at 170 mph in a car that you are unfamiliar with while driving in a straight-jacket. I continued to strain to push the accelerator to the floor with my toes, but it took a tremendous force of will to overcome what seemed to be the logical, safe thing to do. That is why I reached 170 mph and some only got up to 150 mph.
3) Most people do not do what they want to do. Did you know that? Sure, some people will say "I would love to do that" just to make you feel good about your adventure. But many really, really want to experience driving a race car. Yet they don't. Ever. For decades. And it is not just driving a race car. Lots of other dreams die on the vine because people are afraid or unwilling to do what needs to be done to accomplish them.
This experience is not for everybody. I don't want to talk anybody into it. But there is an experience that you dream about. What stands in your way? I am very, very glad that I got to enjoy driving a race car really fast before I got too old to enjoy it.