With that said, I recently had the opportunity to try out a race car on the ½-mile, NASCAR-sanctioned track at the Toyota Speedway of Irwindale. I definitely wasn't the fastest car on the track, but the experience left me grinning from ear to ear.
It's more difficult to drive the short track than, say, the two-mile Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. You have very little time to accelerate on the straight aways and you're constantly in fear that you're going to spin out on the curves, never quite getting up enough nerve to put as much gas into the car as you'd like.
David Bremer, who is an instructor for L.A. Racing, the company at the track that teaches average Joes - like me - how to be Jimmy Johnson for 10 minutes, said it is an absolute blast to be behind the wheel of one of these cars.
And that is absolutely true.
"I have a unique perspective," said Bremer, who is as confident and cool in front of a room of nervous beginners as he is himself on the track. "I've been at racing school for 23 years. I've seen both sides of the fence. I've been at racing schools all over the country. Students have fears. I'm able to address those issues. I also see the common mistakes students make."
So, what is the attraction to driving these vehicles?
"The main thing is people can come out, drive a Super 8 Middle stock car on a half-mile super speedway driving a 2,700-pound stock car with 425 to 450 horse power fully adjustable and have a great time," said Bremer who's been with L.A. Racing for eight years. "It's for everybody. Everyone can enjoy it. If you want to feel what it's like to be a race car driver, you can here."
What really struck me as fantastic about L.A. Racing was they made sure you did not drive out of your comfort zone (crashes and spin outs happen then) and the workers - especially those on the track - were extremely courteous and professional.
When I was having a problem hearing instructions on my radio at the beginning of my 20 laps and had to pull immediately to the infield for help, a crew worker ran out to see what I needed. And instead of being overly macho and condescending (as some of these guys can be) he was very understanding, praised me for doing the right thing that I was taught in class, fixed the problem and got me on my way.
That meant everything to me, especially since I am someone who can barely drive on a freeway without crashing let alone on a NASCAR-sanctioned track.
For more information on L.A. Racing, call (877) 901-RACE or log onto laracingx.com.