Release The Craken--Wide Eyes and White Knuckels
I've had people tell me, "I grew up at the racetrack," several times since I moved to Medicine Hat in late July, and I couldn't help but wonder what such a life would entail.
I was never really exposed to motorsports as a child, but I got my first taste of that life in the fast lane Sunday at the Medicine Hat Speedway in a ride along with Medicine Hat Auto Racing Association president Rick Jondreau.
When Jondreau invited me to take in a few laps with him, I didn't hesitate for a second, and when I arrived on Sunday he made sure to give me an authentic experience, either that or he tried to scare the hell out of me, six of one right.
As soon as I put on my gear and readied myself for the experience, Jondreau broke out the tire gauge to ensure the sleek blue-and-silver No. 6 could rip down the track at top speeds, and we pulled onto the oval with three other vehicles vying for position.
I could only watch as the world streamed past, barely able to hear my own thoughts over the roar of the engine and the squealing rubber.
As we picked up the pace, Jondreau decided to have some fun, coming within inches of the wall or other vehicles, flying into turns or tearing down the track at speeds I've never experienced outside of an airplane. I sat there wide-eyed and white-knuckled as the raw adrenaline coursed through me.
There were plenty of thrills, and what at times appeared to be close calls with the wall, but it was readily evident that safety was a primary concern, and while my heart was racing, I never felt as though I was in danger. In fact, as we careened around the bends faster than I assumed possible, the only thought in my mind was, "Man, this guy can drive."
I wouldn't have called myself a racing fan prior to this weekend. I just never had the reference point, I'm not much of a car guy and I could never relate to the feeling of being on the racetrack. That all changed after Sunday's thrill ride.
While I don't see myself ever getting behind the wheel of one of those mechanical monsters, I'm really looking forward to covering the Medicine Hat Speedway next season through a new set of lenses. My time on the track left me with a whole new perspective on racing, a much greater appreciation for the sport and an experience I'll never forget.
The drive home never felt so slow.