Indy Racing League CEO Randy Bernard isn’t usually a man of few words, but that one sufficed after exiting the Indy Racing Experience two-seater at Texas Motor Speedway. Johnny Rutherford was the driver for four laps on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval a few hours before the Firestone 550K.
Top speed was about 175 mph – about 40 mph slower than Ryan Briscoe’s four-lap pole average – and Bernard felt the G forces that pinned him to the right side of the stretched Dallara.
In 15 years as CEO of the Professional Bull Riders, Bernard hadn’t once boarded a mechanical bull. Three months into the IZOD IndyCar Series gig and he’s taken a wild ride.
“I’ve never had an experience like that in my life,” Bernard says. “I can’t even fathom going faster than we did. I was blown away with how fast we were going, and to know that Johnny can still go that fast was amazing.”
The three-time Indianapolis 500 champion wasn’t about to take the jab without landing a left hook.
“It’s like riding a bicycle,” replies Lone Star J.R., who wore his famous helmet during the ride. “As long as I did it, it just comes back to you. You know the feeling and how much grip you’re getting and whether it’s going to be twitchy or not. So you just take it up to the edge you feel and just stay there.
“When I’m out there I’m thinking if (crew members) got all the tires on tight. When was the last time they magnafluxed the suspension?”
The Indy Racing Experience two-seater program offers high-speed rides at almost all tracks the IZOD IndyCar Series visits.
“This is the ultimate promotion,” Bernard says. “I’ve never seen a promotion like this. If you take a ride at 165 mph, it would be like going out and being a scratch golfer and have that feeling. You’re living what these athletes are doing, and you’re still 40 mph slower. You do not realize when you’re that low to the ground and you’re going that fast how dangerous it is for these drivers. And then to have 25 or more other cars on the track at the same time?