Okay, shuddup. I can hear y’all now after you looked in GoPostal’s Show & Tell and saw this from me. After reading my other adventure in the Ride Along, you just have to finish this with the Driving Experience.
THE DRIVING EXPERIENCE
Having completed my Ride Along, I now had an idea of what these cars could do. Having felt the physical experience of 165 miles per hour, I was ready for 200. Unfortunately, the cars we were about to drive had a computer chip in them cutting off fuel at 140. Technology sucks sometimes, but we all had to deal with it. Yes, all of us… Me and the 32 soon-to-be losers standing in the drivers’ area cackling like a bunch of old hens on the nest with eggs about to hatch. I was performing some transmeditational subconscious attitudinal psychic devotional chanting by now, which I’m sure sounded to the other drivers like I was mumbling, “You're gonna die.” I paced up and down making sure each driver saw the look in my eyes — yes that Charles Manson – or was it Marilyn Manson? — look. Whatever.
The list of drivers is posted. I am number 19 out of 33. They played the sound of WWF’s “Let's get ready to rumble!” over the speakers and it was now time to separate them boys from the only man — that being I… or me? Whatever… I yelled out, “Let’s get these losers in their cars so we can get to the real driver.” By now, I kind of felt my attempts at friendship with the other 32 was in vain, so I was going to start to get nasty now. That's right… Nasty Boy.
The first driver skips like a sissy out to his car. This guy probably delivered flowers to dead people he had dug up to have sex with. He was right out of some frickin’ freak show and posed no problem for me — I had already stepped on his one foot, maybe causing him to skip, but who cares? This is war, and I will not be taken alive. But I think if I were dead, this guy would want to have sex with me.
The next driver — with his Generation X, punk-ass rock, chicken-plume hairdo — tries to get a helmet on his apparently empty frickin’ head. Oh, yeah… I want to use that helmet when he’s done (all the hair dye and stick’em shit on the inside)! Oh, yeah… Burn that helmet with him in it. He looks over his shoulder at me as he walks towards his car, and I give him the universal “grab my crotch and shake it at him” signal. I swear he started to cry. It occurred to me that maybe I was going too far with this, but then I said to myself, “In war, there is no such thing as too far.” So I picked up a rock and threw at his helmet as a token of good luck as I yelled, “Rock on, motherfucker!”
I won’t bore you with the other 16 drivers. We had ones who had to have axle grease smeared on their ass to slide them in and out of the car. What a mess! Then there was the one who yelled he had to pee after he’d been all suited up and strapped in. Where in God’s name did these people come from? Like I told you in my other story: all you need is a dream, the money and the time. Some of these guys were so out of touch with where they were, they thought this was going to be a video virtual reality experience. The staff of the driving school had to literally carry some of them screaming and kicking to the cars and jam them down into seat and slap them across the face… Something their mother should have done earlier in their childhood.
Finally… It’s time for Robbie to rumble. The 16th driver pulls in and is yanked out of his car and kicked in his ass by the staff, as they tell him to ride a freakin’ bike. He had gone so slow out on the track that the tow truck was sent out for him because they thought he had broke down. What was this guy doing here? Evidently, his wife was home banging the mailman or someone while he was out here at the Sears’ Learn to Drive a Yugo School for the Blind. With the ass of his suit all black from shoe marks helping him to the pit wall, the staff turned and looked at me. It was time!
By this time, I was feeling every molecule of air that touched my skin. I was awake. I was alive. I was so intense I could hear the valves opening and closing in my heart. I was inside myself — no one could get me — as I slid into the car and eased back into the seat. I felt like I had been here before. This was home. This is where I belong. This is my castle and I am king. “Hand the King his steering wheel,” I hear someone say. As I lock it to the steering column, I push the clutch in and hit the starter switch. The beast comes to life, rumbling and rattling and popping as I tap the throttle to clear the beast’s throat. I think I see all the spectators and family members raise to their feet. Maybe they were leaving… Who knows? The pit crewman with the “STOP” and “GO” signboard stands in front of me as I stare through him, focusing my eyes on the instructor’s car ahead. By now, I had the car in first gear, revving at 2000 rpm and I screamed out, “Let's do it!”
The instructor rolls out as I ease the clutch out. My beast moves toward its prey. I rev to about 4000 rpm and shift into 2nd. We are on the access road about to enter the track on the backstretch. Another 4000 on the tach and I was slamming 3rd gear — right on my instructor’s ass. I said to myself, “This instructor may try to lose my ass,” so I stuck with him like catshit on shag carpet. He wasn’t going to shake me.
Finally, another four grand on the tach and now in 4th. Up onto the track we go, and I remember the rule we are to follow which states I can’t be any closer than four car-lengths to the instructor. I said my car lengths were Yugos, not limos, so I was tight on his ass as we went into the third turn. I hugged the white line lower than the professor, letting him see I wasn’t intimidated by his car. We exit Turn 4 and now it’s pedal to the metal.
The rules say if I am following too close to the instructor, he would give me a wave off, meaning I was to back off. If I was too slow and too far behind him, the flagman at the finish line would give me the “pull up, you’re driving too freakin slow” sign with a flag. I can tell you right now… That flagman could have taken that flag and burned it. I wasn’t about to be humiliated and have him wave a flag meant for bluehairs in Florida with Caddies on two-lane roads and no passing zones. If anything, my instructor’s arm would fall off from waving it at me to back off. Back off my ass! I feel the need — the need for speed.
We pass the Start/Finish line and now my times and speeds are now being etched forever in Richard Petty’s computer archives. I see movement ahead of me, and it’s my instructor waving his arm — jeeeesh, come on man… My tractor-trailer goes this fast! We dive into turn one and now the speed increases. I can feel my right hip pushing against the seat support. I can’t believe this car is turning into the curve, as every sense in my body is telling me this is impossible. I'm waiting for the rear end of the car to break loose and send me spinning like ice skater Scott Hammil and end up in the wall like Tanya Harding.
We’re now out of Turn 2 and my confidence is growing with each turn. I feel my foot on the accelerator going to the floor down the backstretch and I'm hanging right on my instructor’s derrière. And what do I see? More arm waving by him. “Chicken shit, let's go!” I'm screaming.
Into the next turn and now instead of following his exact line I’m peaking on the inside down low looking far around the curve. There are a total of eight of us out there, and I want to make sure if someone crashes, I will be the one driving past it, laughing my ass off, yelling “ROOKIE!”
Past the Start/Finish line once again and the flagman looks like a statue. No way is he giving me the “close up” signal. I look like the instructor’s shadow on Groundhog Day, meaning he is going to have six more laps of badass tailing by yours truly. Into Turn 1 and I feel the G’s pulling harder each time we go through. I’m saying to myself, go ahead wave you bastard. I’m staying right here, drafting him like we were on rails and locked onto his bumper like a Patriot MissileÔ on Baghdad. I remember the instructor saying, “The more you make your leader wave, the faster he will go.” Well, sucker, wave like you’re waving to your mother as if you’ve just won Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and can now get her out of that old folks’ home in Baja, Mexico.
Well, I could go on and on about each lap, but I knew my leader had had enough as he pulled down and waved me off after our last lap. He shook his head like he was saying, “Damn, that boy can drive.” I stayed low through Turns 3 and 4, and dropped into pit road and looked for the man with the signboard. I kicked the beast into neutral and the engine rumbled to a 1500 rpm idle. I step on the brakes and realize I hadn’t touched them the entire ride until now. No power brakes here, so I apply the heavy foot to the pedal before I kill the signman and “accidentally” make an employee opening in the driving staff.
All I see is staff coming up to the window and undoing the net, and reaching in the car and undoing my harness and helping me get out as they all cheered and pulled me from the vehicle slapping high fives with me. Great job is all I hear. As I look over I see my wife giving me the “Do you wanna get lucky?” hand signal. Evidently, my performance had motivated her into that “I just want to have my way with you” mood. You can’t blame the woman. I mean, after all…
To sum up this experience, after all the drivers had gone through the program, we all waited for graduation. Inside a white folder a white piece of paper held your lap times, your lap speeds and quite possibly the key to your future. We were all handed our folders and asked not to open them. This is like dating Pamela Anderson Lee and having her were a nun’s habit. You know what you want is inside! Then I thought, maybe they didn't want everyone to open them and then hear me announce my times and speed and have to walk away feeling like they had just been gut-kicked. They announce the winning team with the highest average speed. I look at my team members now sipping Geritol coolers and being rubbed down with Deep Heating Rub by their wives. I stood about as much a chance of being on the winning team as Gore had of being elected — regardless of recounts. I then realized I was put on this geriatric team for one reason and one reason only. They needed hope — and that's what I was: their Great White Hope. But, alas, even I could not pull this group of soon-to-be dirt-nappers to victory. Team One was the winners, and as a good sport, I applauded their efforts with my middle finger waving in the air.
As I opened my envelope and pulled out the sheet — my sheet of destiny — I saw I was faster with each lap. And faster… and faster… and faster… and then, there it is… My top speed. My wife looks at me and calls me her overachieving husband, and all I can do is smile as I realize I had just participated in one of my greatest dreams and it was great to have her there, even if, honestly, she was my only cheerleader.
I met some truly nice people that day. The staff and instructors were great. Every student got out of the car with that look like they just saw Elvis. To ask if we liked it was like asking Oprah if she liked Twinkies. I really want to thank my wife, my Mom, my stepdaughter and my son-in-law for their contribution to my dream. I know how tight I am with money, and I don’t think I would have ever, ever, EVER spent the 400 dollars it took to get me there. But, in my opinion, it was the greatest 400 dollars ever spent.
Even though the class lasted four hours, and it was 100 dollars per hour, it sure beat any shrink or medication or college educational class I could have ever taken. The class was four hours, but the experience will last a lifetime, and I just wanted to share it with you. Maybe you need something like this, or maybe someone you know needs this. I am already saving up for my advanced class, and hope to do it (maybe) at Daytona next year, where the speeds are even greater. I just hope I didn’t drive so well they won’t let me back.
How do I know I drove so well? Well, the King himself, Richard Petty, showed up as I was leaving and signed my photo. The wink in his eye as I walked past told me he may have found someone that would have dethroned him as King and whispered under his breath, “Thanks for driving truck and not NASCAR.” It’s okay, Richard. I now know just how good I drove.
Oh, by the way, my top speed was…
Robert Petty Gordon (Strayer)