From Patti Shea
Adrenaline junkies met at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Wednesday to fill their need for speed -- all part of the Richard Petty Experience where AARP members did ride-a-longs in an official NASCAR stock car for three laps at 165 m.p.h. as part of the "Day of Play" preceding the AARP Vegas@50+ Member Event, set to kick off Thursday.
AARP member Rita Bintiff bought her husband, David, the ride as a surprise. As he removed his helmet after his 2-minute, 4 1/2-mile ride, David declared the experience "awesome." In addition to the helmet, riders wore jumpsuits, and neck restraint devices, just like the pros. At the wheel are drivers who race locally in Las Vegas or who are trained by Petty drivers. After each car returned to pit row, the riders climbed out through the window (again, like the pros) with wide smiles on their faces.
When my turn came, I donned a jumpsuit and helmet and jumped in the car with Jimmy, a driver on the Vegas circuit. Being a serious NASCAR cynic, I asked him if there was more to professional driving than "just drive a little while then turn left." It was at that point Jimmy punched it. By Turn 2 we were up to 100 m.p.h and at Turn 4 along the main stretch we had reached 165 m.p.h. We came inches from the wall, hitting 3 Gs in the turns. The pressure on your chest is a reminder that speed is the boss and the thunder of the engines drowns out any screaming (of which there was some.)
In addition to visting Las Vegas Motor Speedway AARP members who registered for the "Day of Play" had the choice of golf at Angel Park Golf Club or a spa session at Canyon Ranch SpaClub. The Vegas@50+ Member Event concludes Saturday.
From Patti Shea