anietra hamper las vegas speedway3
Anietra at the Richard Petty Driving Experience

“This is so cool” I scream to my friend as a NASCAR stock car races by me at 165 mph on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Soon, I will be inside that car experiencing what it is like to race around the track during my Richard Petty Driving Experience.

I have only watched NASCAR racing on television and I have only imagined what it would be like to go that fast on the freeway in my own car. It doesn’t really compare, but that is my only frame of reference. Trust me, it’s NOTHING like that. It is far more spectacular than you could ever imagine.

NASCAR stock cars
NASCAR stock cars

The revving engine has me excited. The anticipation consumes me. Then, it’s time to crawl through the tiny stock car window like I have seen drivers do so many times. My first discovery about the NASCAR experience is that the ‘jump through the window’ is actually an acquired skill. It is not quite as impressive or graceful when first-timers do it.

The confined space inside the car is just enough to accommodate two adults. The side window is about an inch and a half from my head; the front windshield slopes down snug over us like the protruding rock of a cave; my shoulder is just inches from my driver’s arm and when I turn around, I can see that my tiny metal seat is actually where the trunk of the car begins.  

Hopping into the stock car window
Hopping into the stock car window

The seatbelt crisscrosses my body as the track-side worker yanks on it to ensure a tight fit. It feels like being strapped onto a bullet. After a brief hello with my professional with my driver, he hits the gas, and off we go. I am prepared to accelerate up to speed like I do at a stoplight, but I realize quickly, this is a whole different deal. When you “go” in a stock car, you are at 100 mph in just seconds.

My second revelation about the NASCAR experience is how smooth the ride is. I anticipated a bumpy ride, but it actually felt like coasting at 35 mph. The raceway wall seemed exceptionally close to my window as the blur of the sponsor posters whizzed by me with a magnified appearance. I decide it is best to just look straight ahead.

A peek inside the NASCAR stock car
A peek inside the NASCAR stock car

My third observation about the true NASCAR experience is the sheer driving skill required by the drivers. Their ability to drive this fast, with this kind of precision and make split second decisions is impressive. I was just a passenger on this ride, but if you are interested in taking the wheel, the Richard Petty Driving Experience offers a course for you to do that.

This authentic NASCAR experience is one of the most adrenaline-filled adventures I have ever tackled. Richard Petty is one of the most renowned former NASCAR drivers having won the NASCAR Championship seven times, the Daytona 500 seven times and logging 200 race wins during his career. So, if you want to experience NASCAR from the best, this is the way to do it.

Want a sneak peek of the experience before you commit? Here’s the view from inside the car during my ride: