He smelled like motor oil and tire rubber. A reassuring chuckle came from his mouth as he showed me the four switches I would flip to turn the car on, while double-checking the tightness of the five-point harness.
A shrill beep came through the earpieces as he tested my radio. "Clutch in, watch my signals, listen to your spotter" he said as latched the safety net up and threw me the thumbs up. I flipped the visor down on my helmet, followed the sequence of switches to start her up and headed out on pit row for what was about to become the wildest ride of my life.
See, I've done a lot of "bucket list" style stunts. Cliff-diving, co-piloting a stunt plane (side note: how bout that hair - phew!) , but none where I was ever completely in control of what was going on. Racing a stock car was in a whole 'nother playing field. There was no one else to rely on. Aside from the spotter talking in my ear, I was completely in control of every single action and consequence.
As we followed the pace car the first few laps I started to get a feel for the car. When the pace car pulled away I tested out her speed. When I hit that first corner I became ever so thankful my spotter could only talk, not hear me as I threw out a handful of "ohshitohshitohshit"s. When I hit the apex I threw my foot down on the throttle again and lit her up.
Judging by the adrenaline rush I was feeling, I knew my brother and pops who were in two of the other cars, were also having a blast. My mom set it up for all three of us to go racing, for them it was a Father's Day gift, for me... well, I was a shoe-in since I'm always doing the reckless things!
It was easily one of the scariest things I've done. For fifteen laps I feared every single turn I entered, almost positive I was going to get loose and slam the wall. You see nothing behind you, and very little next to you. You have to have complete trust in this eye in the sky who's telling you lift and left, lift and left whenever someone is near you
The thrill of flying around that track was beyond explainable though. I have a new found jealousy and appreciation for everyone I know who wheels any type of car around a track week in and week out.