Folks at work have had the pleasure of listening to me talk about this all week. The folks at the Talladega Superspeedway hosted an event benefitting the Alabama Red Cross in aid of the tornado victims in Alabama. Basically, for a $50 donation to the Red Cross, you could take your vehicle out for a couple of laps on the track. How could I pass that up?
The way it was advertised, it would be two laps, running at about 65-70mph. I figured I could do that. I asked my mother if she’d like to go — she’s a VERY nervous rider — and she decided she’d give it try. I drove to The Mountain yesterday, and we took off for Talladega early this morning, with the goal of being in line an hour before the event started.
Frankly, as we drove down, we were reminded why we were doing this. Passing through Trenton, GA, and Rainbow City, AL, the devastation was evident. Any picture you’ve seen of homes exploded by tornadic destruction couldn’t do justice to the scenes we saw. Those two areas — and I know there was way more destruction than just what we saw — were simply blown away. These folks needed help, far more help than just our running around the track could do. It’s a start though.
We got to the track, dropped the top, got the cameras ready, and waited. The folks there were great, and the other would-be drivers kept looking in amazement at this big ol’ Jeep, chocked full of camera gear. We were definitely out of place against a tapestry of Corvettes, Mustangs, and regular ol’ passenger vehicles.
The pace truck took us to the track, and in short order, we were lined up and ready to go. The folks at the track came by to give us the rules… stay in line, stay close to the person in front of you, don’t lag behind, and we’ll be going about 85mph.
Waitaminute… 85? Really?
Mom and I looked at each other, and began pulling out in line. We were third in line, and the pace truck and first two vehicles pulled out like they were shot out of a cannon. The Big Green Box lumbered along, and when we hit the first turn, we were at about 65-70mph, trying to tackle the center lane, just like the cars so far in front of us. It was terrifying.
I couldn’t get past the feeling that we were gonna tip over on the 33° banking. I mean, I was sure we were gonna tip over. And so both of us instinctually leaned right to hold the wheels down. 🙂 There just aren’t words to describe how taking a vehicle so aerodynamically poor through turns designed around being very aerodynamically sound.
By the time we’d finished the first turns, we both decided that we’d take the bottom-most banked lane the rest of the way, hoping it’d be less unnerving. And, frankly, it was, although still pretty dang “tilty”!
After two laps, we thought we’d be brought in, but the cars in front of us — now almost a full straightaway ahead — kept going. And going. And going. After four laps, we were brought in, having finished our run. The highest speed I noticed on the speedometer was about 95mph, but the GPS indicates that we may have been closer to 110mph during some of the turns. By far, that’s the fastest my lil’ ol’ Jeep has ever gone.
Mom squalled the whole way — if you watch the video below, you’ll hear her squalling everything except “Help me Baby Jesus! Help me Tom Cruise!” (with apologies to Ricky Bobby) — and said she was glad she did it, but never again. She also said this was the most unique Mother’s Day gift ever. I’ve gotta give her that. It was definitely different.
If you ever get a chance to run at ‘Dega, you should. It is an amazing experience, one that will defy description, and leave you breathless.