When I was approached by Cloud 9 Living to try one of the experiences they offer, I saw the words “stock car ride along” and immediately thought of Matt. He has suffered gallantly since the kids came along, curtailing his lead foot and following speed limits, but in his heart, he loves driving fast. Then I realized that the ride-along adventures are offered at the Pocono Raceway, the world’s largest solar-powered sports facility. It was a match made in GBOGH heaven, so we checked it out last weekend!
If you’re looking to give an original, unique gift this holiday season, you should take a look at what Cloud 9 Living offers. Besides the ride-alongs, they offer experiences throughout the U.S., like sky diving, learning to golf with a PGA pro, and chocolate-making classes (My personal favorite!). Cloud 9 is running a “9 Days of Christmas Contest”, where you can win your own experience, so it’s a good time to check it out.
After suiting up, Matt climbed through the window of #8. They clipped on a neck roll, positioned him in his seat, fastened his seat belt, then chained his neck roll and helmet to the back of his seat so his head was immobile. He couldn’t turn to see his driver, Bruce, but he did introduce himself. A transplant of Charlotte, NC, Bruce has been driving professionally for 20 years; the last nine at Pocono. Bruce didn’t give him much instruction, but he did tell him that if he felt nauseous at any point, he should give him the “thumbs down” sign, and he would slow down.
Before he reached the end of the pit row, Bruce had the car in fourth gear. Matt felt the force pull him back. He didn’t realize until he felt sore later that he was clenching muscles in his shoulders and back. He didn’t feel scared, but at one point in turn two, he saw skid marks along the wall, and thought, “ouch.”
Don’t blink, but this is how fast he was going:
As Matt tells it: “The second Bruce takes his foot off the gas, you feel a difference. There’s only four speeds, and he really never even used the brakes. At the end of the third lap, he coasted and downshifted and cut the engine. He told me we were going approximately 165 miles per hour at top speed, which was when we drove the front straight away in front of the grandstand. We went slower during the turns.” (The track is a triangle, so there were three turns.)
This is what we got out of him as he was taking off his gear:
Bruce told Matt that the cars get checked after every six laps, particularly for tire wear. After Matt got out, they jacked up #8 on the left side, because Bruce said he “felt something,” which may have been nothing more than a pavement seam.
Matt’s ride-along experience was three laps, and lasted about ten minutes. You can also choose a six lap ride. Each lap is approx. 2.5 miles. I didn’t realize that some races are 500 miles; that’s a lot of time in a rattling car!
In our own car on the way home, I pointed out that the speed we were driving was only half of what he was driving on that track.
Matt thought it was “totally wicked,” but wished he would have been able to bring his phone along for the ride to take video. (He has a hard time separating from his technology.)
Since we were at the world’s largest solar powered sports facility, I should point out that we saw the 25 acres where the Pocono Raceway operates 40,000 photovoltaic modules, which will produce more than 72 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy over the next 20 years. The system offsets more than 3,100 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. Not only do they generate enough power for the Raceway, but also for close to 1,000 homes in the area!
Disclaimer: Cloud 9 Living provided us with this experience free of charge, in exchange for our honest review.