By Chad Deal
As the green flag waves, you mash the accelerator to the floor and scream around a racetrack at speeds of up to 180 miles per hour. It's not a dream. It's you and a 750-horsepower machine barreling down the asphalt at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California (near San Bernadino).
The NASCAR Racing Experience begins with a check-in on Pit Road and being fitted for a racing suit. After training with a crew chief, it's time to jump into a real-life NASCAR racecar and put the pedal to the metal. When you come roaring up behind an opponent, your professional instructor will give you real-time instructions (via two-way radio) on how to pass like the pros.
After the race, collect your graduate certificate showing your top speed, and then try not to get a speeding ticket on the way home.
If IndyCars are more your style, check out the Mario Andretti Racing Experience, also at Fontana, where you take charge of a 600-horsepower, open-wheel, open-cockpit road beast for up to 54 minutes of white-knuckled racing.
The NASCAR Racing Experience (October 9, 11 and 12) and Mario Andretti Racing Experience (October 10 and 13) ain't cheap. Prices start at $129 for a three-lap ride-along with a professional racing instructor. Taking the wheel costs $364.99 for a five-minute race; $464.99 for an eight minute race; $864.99 for two eight-minute races; $1,299.99 for three eight-minute races; $1,999.99 for four eight-minute races; and $2,999.99 for four eight-minute solo runs and two 15-minute races.
To reach maximum velocity closer to home, check out Allen Berg Racing Schools, coming to the Qualcomm Stadium parking September 27 and 28. Your chariot here is a reducedscale Tatuus Renault Formula 1600 racecar equipped with on-board MoTeC data acquisition technology to provide accurate specs and feedback on every aspect of your racing experience. Prices are $399 for 20 laps; $695 for three hours; $1,695 for a full day; $3,195 for two days; $4,495 for three days. allenbergracingschools.com
Start Your Engines
Three types of rubber to burn
(race at Fontana)
Engine: 5.86-liter V8
Top speed: 240+ mph
(race at Fontana)
Engine: 3.5-liter V8
Top speed: 200+ mph
Tatuus Renault Formula 1600
(race at Qualcomm Stadium)
Horsepower: 140 (equivalent to 500 horsepower given power-to-weight ratio)
Engine: 1.6-liter, four-cylinder
Top speed: 100 mph
On the Right Track
Fontana Speedway specs
Originally called California Superspeedway, Auto Club Motor Speedway (9300 Cherry Avenue, Fontana) was built on the former site of the abandoned Kaiser Steel Mill and has appeared in movies including Charlie's Angels and The Bucket List. The two-mile, D-shaped track's grandstand seats 92,100 race fans. Gil de Ferran set the track's speed record in 2000, hitting an average lap speed of 241.428 mph.