Tom’s Corner – Let’s go racing!


The Richard Petty Driving Experience is a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to actually drive a Sprint Cup stock car on many of America’s fastest race courses. I have been very fortunate to have driven these race cars at Lowes Charlotte Motor Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet Illinois. This is a hands on heart pounding high speed fast action adventure you will never forget! Having driven these same speedways that the great race drivers competed in over the years is an honor for me. The fact that you can drive at speeds over 170 mph and feel the power of a 358 CU inch 600 HP V-8 with all the noise and heat is almost a religious experience for me.

The class session starts with professional instructors on how to find your marks on the tri-oval. The instructions are very detailed. Then you climb into a van that takes you to the top of the oval, which is 1 ½ miles in length around the race track and is banked at 36 degrees. This is to acclimate you with what will be a very exciting day. Then, you get strapped into one of the stock cars and wait your turn in the pits to go out onto the track. These race cars rev up to 7000 rpm’s and I advise you to use ear plugs! The cars can be Chevrolet Monte Carlo’s, Pontiac Grand Prix, Ford Taurus and Dodge stock cars. All drivers are issued flame resistant suits, neck restraint, and helmets. You must provide the driving shoes and gloves. The session lasts for 10 laps and there are 3 sessions. After each session, you are brought in and the instructor who is assigned to you will critique your driving style and advise where you can improve your lap times. At the end of the course, you are congratulated and issued a diploma to certify that you have completed the course.

The cost can range from $1500.00 to $3500.00 depending on where you go for your driving school. I highly recommend the three day course because it will really sharpen your driving skills and you will come away with a deep appreciation for the race drivers who have to do 500 laps! I was very fortunate to have driven Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s number 8 Chevrolet at Charlotte Motor Speedway and at Chicagoland Speedway. My sponsor, Lennox International paid for all expenses both times. My two diplomas are a treasured part of my racing heritage which started in 1946 as a kid and along with my Skip Barber racing school diploma and my racing license from the Pomona Drag Racing School, and my vintage racing experience in my cousins’ 1965 Corvette at Road America in Elkhart Lake.

Tom drives Dale Earnhardt Jr's number 8

Tom drives Dale Earnhardt Jr’s number 8

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