Sunday, July 26, 2009

You’re Part Of The Petty Family Now

The long-awaited day had finally arrived. We were on our way to the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California for my husband’s day at the Richard Petty Rookie Experience. We had won the class from the Save Mart “Start Your Engines” contest.

We arrived about a half an hour early, and the nice people who collected the compulsory Liability Waiver and Participant Information Medical Form, signed Paul up for the Ride-Along Experience. “It will help you get a feel for the track,” they stressed.

The Ride-Along placed Paul on the passenger side of a two-seater, NASCAR-style stock car driven Andrew Lewis. Lewis, a local racer, captured the Grand National West Sunoco Rookie of the Year title in 2005 while driving for Bill McAnally Racing. (Moses races for BMR this year). Paul really enjoyed the three-lap qualifying style run at speeds that reached upward to 165 miles per hour.

The “classroom” portion of the rookie experience was well organized. Chris, the instructor kept the material interesting with stories and humor. “You’re Part of the Petty Family now,” he announced and the RPE staff made us feel right at home.

After the Orientation and Video; twenty minute On-Track Instruction; Mechanical and Safety Instruction; and a ten-minute Mandatory Driver’s Meeting, Paul was suited up and waiting for his turn behind the wheel.

The rookie experience consists of the rookie (Paul) following the instructor around the track for eight laps. The instructor’s car is equipped with a yellow light and a green light. If the rookie sees the yellow light, he/she is following too closely, and needs to get off the gas. If the green light is displayed, the rookie is lagging too far behind.

While Paul had the time of his life, he was disappointed because the yellow light was on a lot, and he was not able to go as fast as he desired. Paul’s top speed was one hundred and thirty-eight (138) miles per hour. He believed that he was capable of going much faster than that had he not had to remain behind the instructor’s vehicle.

Before I watched my husband participate in the Rookie Experience, I has planning on saving up the four hundred dollars ($400.00) necessary so that I could participate in it myself. However, now I realize that the Richard Petty Experience is not a Disneyland ride. I do not possess the minimum driving skills necessary. First off, I have not driven a stick shift in over ten years. As Chris informed us at the beginning of the class instruction, the Rookie Experience is not a driving class. So for now, I am planning of saving the one hundred and ten dollars ($110.00) it costs for the Ride-Along.

On a scale from one to ten, where ten is the best, Paul rated his experience as a nine. “The guy would not go fast enough for me,” Paul grumbled. However, I know that Paul is looking forward to doing it again.

On a scale from one to ten, where ten is the best, I would also have to rate my experience as the guest of a participant as a nine. The staff was awesome; very friendly and helpful. The on-track action was thrilling. However, I had to deduct a point due to the cost of the RPE souvenirs. We spent an additional hundred and sixty dollars ($160.00) for a nice plaque and video.

The Richard Petty Experience is a one of a kind NASCAR adventure. If you are a NASCAR fan (or not) it will give you a greater appreciation about the sport. If you get the opportunity to participate in the Ride-Along or Rookie Experience, I recommend that you do it. It is a place where memories are made. I cannot wait until it is my turn!

The nice people at the Richard Petty Experience supplied me with a 1:64 Die Cast Car - Richard Petty Driving Experience #43 - Dodge Charger to give to one of my readers. If you would like to win it, just leave a topic related comment below. Be sure that you leave me a way to contact you; contest will end 8/3/2009.

Oh yeah, please remember to vote daily for Moses Smith for Most Popular Driver - Click here for the easy no registration vote.


RhondaAnn said...

Sounds like he had an awesome time! I've always told hubby that if I ever do that, 70mph on the highway won't ever be fast enough again. LOL!

Chuck W said...

LOL - couldn't go fast enough for him, huh?!? Oh well - sure he had a good time. I've always wanted to do that. Will need to give my wife a hint for an upcoming birthday/Christmas gift idea :)

Betty said...

Richard Petty is a true NASCAR icon, has been for decades. I would love to see Petty cars in victory lane again.

Aimee said...

Sounds like you both had a lot of fun! My dad would love something like this, huge Nascar & Petty fan.

Dawn said...

That looks like it was so much fun. I'm going to have to try that one day.

Nettie said...

Sounds like you all had a great trip. Maybe Paul can kick it up a knotch next time!

Gail said...

my sons would enjoy this prize to much.

Anonymous said...

I've never been to a racetrack, or any sort of car race. I'll go one day, I'm sure :)

If I somehow win the contest, my email's

Unknown said...

OK Paul, now you've had a taste, will you go back for more?? I've done 18 laps at Orlando, and 8 laps at Charlotte and Michigan. Also RIDE A LONGS at Orlando, Charlotte, Atlanta, Daytona and Michigan. IT'S A BLAST. Just need to go faster!!!!!
Make sure to follow @PettyDrivingExp on twitter, for a chance to win to FREE ride! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I won a trip from Reynolds Aluminum to go to the Texas Sprint Cup race in November and I get to meet Richard Petty there!


Tony said...

Z,as always your writing style keeps me interested till the end.
I am not posting to win the RP Scale car. Only to say I enjoy reading your stories.

Everyone remember to vote for the most popular driver. And in my opnion Moses Smith is a great choice. :)

Anonymous said...

Stuck in traffic at 138mph sounds awesome! His smile says it all. Must have been a thrill. You can pm me at SA if I win. SPOCK

Anonymous said...

wow what a great venture! I would love to win that to add to our collection. You can reach me at if I am lucky enough to win it. Thanks for your update!

Firecracker! said...

Hi 'Z' If Paul wants to go faster you must save for the BIGGEST 'Experience of a Lifetime' that they offer. The more laps you do the faster they let you go.

I can understand Paul's regret's of only doing 138 mph at Fontana, though. That place is huge!! Will's fastest was only 128, but on a MUCH smaller track...and he still wanted to go FASTER...It was only his first time in a car of that type...He's gone faster then that in a PERSONAL car...OOPS!
*tongue in cheek* Did I just admit that? =)

Buy him the 30 Lap experience, next time! =)

He'll really be smiling!!!

Don Mc Daniel said...

Nice to see old "Go Faster Moses" beaming(?)face peering from under his Richard Petty skid lid. With reference to the yellow light on the pilot car, it's also refreshing to see that Paulie is still driving in a manner to which he is accustomed -----Half Fast

Pat Connors said...

I have just started collecting Nascar related cars about a month ago. This would be a great addition to my collection. I remember seeing him in CT during the late 80s.

Pat Connors