Growing up in Indy, oval races were really all I knew. When I’d watch an F1 or road course race, I used to wonder what the big deal was. Why would anyone ever WANT to slow down in order to make all of those turns? Although I do appreciate and thoroughly enjoy the street and road course races, my heart lies with the ovals.
So, what better way to celebrate the love with my first two-seater ride on the oval of Kansas Speedway. Not gonna lie, I was nervous for an entire week, but mostly excited out of my mind. Because IZOD does so many projects and promotions with the fabu team at the Indy Racing Experience (creators of the 2-seater experience), I’ve become good friends with this entertaining cast of characters. You’d think this would be comforting to a rookie rider, but all I thought about was how they’d make fun of my helmet head.
Rain delayed the schedule on Friday and I was truly panicked that I wouldn’t get to ride. And when I heard they were back on, I panicked again because I was now in the middle of an IZOD meeting. Like a mischievous 16-year-old, I snuck out and headed to pit lane. The fantastically wonderful and amazing Shonda got me signed-in and suited up in an oh-so flattering firesuit.
From here on, cue the jumping and clapping. I was just so dang excited!
Now out to the car to finish the prep. The stunning and stupendous Scott puts me in line first and drags the headsock over my crazy blonde mop. While he’s doing this and putting the helmet on, he’s talking to everyone else in line and yanking my head all over the place as if I was a prop in the “Whack-a-Mole” game. And while zipping up my firesuit (he’s still talking, of course), he zips my locks right into the zipper…head hair, not chest hair mind you. Stop distracting me from my joyful moments, Scott!
Over the wall and into the IZOD PerformX car with the adorable Stephan Gregoire. Sidebar.
(Do you know anyone that is regal? I think Stephan is regal. Put that down in your diary. He smells of fine leather and reminds me of properly bound literature. The guy is the complete package. Just the type of gentleman you want driving you around at 180mph. If you ever get to ride in the 2-Seater and the pilot gives you the impression of carnival food and short stories…wait for another driver. –this portion of the blog has been eloquently written by an unnamed ghost writer with red hair)
So, anyway. Chris and Joe help me oh-so-gracefully (not) climb into the car and I’m told I’ll get an extra lap for warm-up. Holy frick…now I am supah jazzed! Since I’m now in the car, there’s no more jumping, but continue the clapping and fidgeting.
Engines fired. This, my friends, was almost my favorite part. We had to sit there a while waiting for the track to open. Just sitting there in the car with that smooth growling engine behind me. How can one not get addicted to this?
We’re off. Hoping for a burnout, but Stephan is a gentleman, remember? Warm-up lap underway and I seriously think my face is going to fall off from smiling so big. Coming around turn 4, I give a goofy wave to the guys in the pits and prepare for lift-off. Stephan punches it and we’re speeding around the oval.
What an AH-maaaaazing feeling. The power and G-forces and whatnot. The car is in control, pulling you sideways and pushing you down at the same. Each time we’d come into a turn, my eyes would fixate on the wall and I wanted it to get closer. Is that weird? Each time we went down the backstretch, I wanted to go faster! Even though you’re perilously speeding around a racetrack at 150mph and the engines are roaring in your ears, it actually feels like you’re quietly speeding through air or water. It was serene. Even though I wasn’t doing a darn thing as a helpless passenger, I still felt all the muscles in my body working. It’s obvious why these drivers have to be in such amazing shape to rocket around a track for hours in a row.
To my disappointment, after a few laps we had to pull back into the pits and my rookie ride was nearing an end. As we geardown and roll in, I’m already thinking about how I can give up my marketing career and learn to go fast for a living. Not sure anyone would take on this goofyass 35-year-old chick though. I gleefully hop out of the car, remove the helmet with mane in shambles…grinning from ear to ear. This is a ride I will beg, barter and bribe to experience again.
To end this rambling blog, I’ll give a little scoop on something you should keep an eye out for. The 2-seater concept is going to a whole new level for the Indy 500. Thanks to IZOD, Honda and Aquahydrate, we’ve created the best seat in sports. Is it possible to hit a forehand for Federer in the Wimbledon championships? Is it possible to shoot a free-throw for Kobe in the finals of NBA Playoffs? Is it possible to run behind the kicker in the Super Bowl? Nope.
But yes, folks, only in IZOD IndyCar can we put you in a race. Stay tuned.