Ever wonder what it’s like to sit in a NASCAR race car and feel the speed drivers such as Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon experience?
Gateway Motorsports Park and the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience are giving race fans that very opportunity.
Maureen McCuen of St. Louis nervously held her camera, taking photos of her 59-year-old husband, Bill, as he climbed into the AAA No. 6 Ford Fusion once driven by NASCAR great Mark Martin.
“This is our first time doing anything like this,” McCuen said. “This has been a dream of his to race since he was a young man and our kids bought him a gift certificate for Christmas. I know he’s having the time of his life.”
For the last 15 years, the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience has offered this rare glimpse into the life of a NASCAR driver.
“What’s different about our experience is that we don’t make our guests stay behind a pace car and restrict them,” Director of Operations Aaron Griffith said. “We allow our guests to pass and drive at a speed that they are comfortable with. We have in-car radio to communicate and we provide all the required safety gear that actual NASCAR drivers use today, including the fire suit, helmet and HANS (head and neck support) device to protect the driver’s neck.”
The cars used in the Rusty Wallace racing experience are actual retired race cars used by today’s NASCAR drivers and have seen real competition. Participants can sit in the same seat as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards as they circle the track.
Those not sure if they wish to take the driver’s seat have the option to go for a ride-along with one of the professional drivers at the race track. A fire suit, helmet and HANS device are required to be worn by passengers for safety as the driver takes his passengers on a ride at speeds exceeding 140 mph.
“We are here for my friend’s husband’s birthday,” Mary Riley of Imperial, Mo., said. “My crazy friend Gigi talked me into going on the ride-along. I like exciting and new things; I may as well go for it.”
Individuals as well as corporate parties are welcome to register for the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience by visiting www.racewithrusty.com or by calling (855) 227-8789 to speak to a race coordinator. The Rusty Wallace Racing Experience has several dates at Gateway throughout its schedule from February to November.