I was very blessed as a kid to have a family that believed strongly in adventurous vacations. Whenever a place popped up on TV that my family had been to, my father would always say, “We’ve been there.” Granted he was doing it to be silly but there was a sense of pride that whatever was so beautiful or important to be on TV was something his family had already seen.
I started saying the same thing around friends and family regarding stadiums and arenas. College friends and I went on a road trip and saw Fenway. Then, every time a Red Sox game came on, I said, “I was there.” Even though the number of places I’ve been keeps growing, I’ve never stopped saying it.
The catch was, I’ve only been to places, but I’ve never experienced it on the court or field. I can’t say I fielded grounders at Yankee Stadium, just been there. I’ve never went through lay-up lines at Allen Fieldhouse or MSG. However, with great pride, I can say, I drove PIR.
During the 3rd annual Doug & Wolf Gift Draft, I traded up with Big Mike to the number one pick. I chose Diane’s present. I knew it was a bottle of wine but I also knew well-enough that she would never stop at just a bottle of wine. After opening it, I discovered I was right…and wrong.
It was a bottle of champagne but I was right that there was more to it.
There was a note on the bottle that it could only be opened after you went through a course from the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. So last month, I actually drove PIR!
I’ve hiked the Grand Canyon, seen Pink Floyd in concert, watched my wife sing the national anthem at Fenway Park, and witnessed my one pound daughter fight for survival outside the womb. I can now add driving an open wheel race car to my list of accomplishments.
It was an incredible thrill. We started out by driving around 50 mph behind a Cadillac while circling the track for about 10 minutes. Then we went in for class time and an explanation of how we drive the track and why the Cadillac drove the track the way we did. After a 100 mph van ride (yeah, that was weird) we got back in the cars and drove around the track again.
The second trip was still while following a Cadillac but we were doing around 80. This was amazing how confident I was starting to feel. At 50 mph I thought I was flying and going to lose control. Having my butt three inches off the ground while driving sitting in the middle of the car seemed so radical making the exhilaration unbelievable. What was great, though, was the second trip seemed much easier. Now that I was comfortable, 80 didn’t feel as fast. I learned so much more about what the drivers must go through during a race. I always thought there’s no way you can look around as you drive the track but I could really see the stands and pick out different features of the hills around the track.
After the second run, the real fun began. The Cadillacs left the track. We weren’t allowed to pass other students but we could go as fast as we felt comfortable. It took me awhile but near the end, I was flying. We were told that if other drivers were slowing us up to pull into the pits. That way we could be let out of the pits when there was a gap in the drivers and have more room to drop the hammer. I was the only driver that went into the pits twice because I caught up with slower drivers on two separate occasions.
What’s great about it is the control. If you’ve ever wanted to drive a race car but you don’t want to drop the hammer, they’re not going to tell you to speed up. It’s perfect to get the experience at your own pace. If you’re like me and you want to push the boundary of your own confidence, it’s a wild ride.
If you’ve always wanted to do something completely different than your average weekend, this has to go on the top of your list.