Having never visited a NASCAR style speedway before, I wasn’t quite prepared for the massiveness that is Pocono Raceway. I had been to The Glen years ago after the NASCAR renovation, but that facility is nowhere near the size of the big tri-oval at Pocono. The grandstands must be close to a half a kilometer long!
This size did little to calm the butterflies in my generous tummy. It had been 15 years since I’d driven on a track and 13 since I stopped rallying. As a guy with a bit of history, the last thing I wanted to do was head out on the track and make an ass of myself. Fortunately, lapping is like a combination between a bike and fine wine. You never forget the skills you learned way back when, and with maturity comes a much smoother, more patient driving style. After the first couple of cars, I was getting into my groove again just in time to head our for the giggle factory that is the MINI Cooper S. More on the MINI in later post.
It’s amazing to realize how many stories one day at the track can generate, but perhaps it’s because that one day has rekindled my love affair with high speed driving. You might even say that for this track addict, yesterday was like a coke hit for a recovering drug addict. I need more track time and soon! Over the next week or so, I’ll recount as many of those stories as I can, along with reporting on all the cars I tested.
Before I get back to vacationing with the family, I’ll just relay one quick story of a snake, a horse and a white whale. Later in the afternoon, the lineup for the Shelby GT-500 subsided and I hopped in for a go. Warned by many that the blue and white beast was uncontrollable and shouldn’t be available for untrained drivers, I planned to take care. My familiarization lap showed that the Stang was indeed a very physical car to drive, but handled quite well when tossed around like a Trans Am car and was blindingly fast when kicking the loud pedal. On lap two, I was chasing the Viper GTS coupe and we got up to about 135 mph on the back straightaway by the braking point to turn back into the infield course. Along the length of the speedway section, the white Porsche 911 Turbo was gradually catching up. At the end of the braking zone, the white whale was filling my mirror, while I was on the bumper of the Viper. Through the esses that followed, the Viper driver was pushing hard enough to get sideways a couple of times while I too was hanging it out through a couple of turns. What an incredible time! Running as fast as I’ve ever run, in likely the most beastly car I’ve ever driven while running with two of the fastest production cars available.