When I was a little kid, grownup people would often ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, as they so often do. I never ask kids this question because, quite frankly, it’s a stupid question and unfair to expect a child to know what shitty career they want to fuck up their adulthood with. But since kids are mostly stupid, I guess it’s a good icebreaker when you feel the need to start a conversation with a child.
For whatever reason, I would always answer this question by saying I wanted to be a scientist when I grew up. I’m not really sure why I would say this, since I didn’t like science in school. Now that I am grown up, the only things I have down to a science are things like shoplifting and how to dump a girl and still have sex with her. Adult humans seemed to think I was smart when I told them that a scientist is what I wanted to be, so maybe that’s why I said it.
After driving a souped-up Mustang GT around the racetrack at the Larry Miller Motorsports Park last week, I should have said I wanted to be a goddamn racecar driver.
My first experience at Miller MotorSports Park was a few years back when I did a cover story on guys who like to drift their cars. Drifting is like when you just get your license and steal Mom’s car to go do some wicked doughnuts in the snow—but there’s no snow. It amazed me how Vin Diesel and the Fast and Furious movie series could inspire a hobby and a lifestyle.
That day, I was lucky enough to meet pro skater Bucky Lasek, who was hanging out with Park Beutler, local skate ripper and fast car driver when he’s not skating. Bucky is now a racecar driver, and also has a hidden talent where he can smoke a cigarette with his butthole, as he demonstrated in an early Big Brother skateboarding video (Insert your own tail pipe joke here).
My second time to the track was a few months ago. I met up with Jason Smith, pro racecar mechanic for Miller Motorsports Park. He’s also a driving instructor, but not your average driving instructor teaching awkward teens how to hold a steering wheel at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock. He teaches dudes how to drive fast as fuck on a racetrack.
Jason showed me around the garage he worked in—it had more Mustangs than a dude ranch. After a quick tour, he asked me if I wanted to ride in a Raptor around the racetrack. I had no idea what a Raptor was, but apparently, it’s a souped-up Ford F-150 that can jump in the air if desired. Duh, fuck yeah I wanna ride!
The racetrack was covered in a good six inches of snow, which basically made riding around in a Raptor funner. We were hauling balls on the snow covered racetrack, and I’m asking Jason questions as he’s overcorrecting tight turns, and I’m thinking to myself, “How does anyone talk and drive like this at the same time?”
After a couple laps, Jason says to me, “Hey! You should come out in the spring and take the Mustang Experience!” And I’m thinking to myself, “I’m very open minded, but I’m not having sex with no horse, at least not for free.” I was completely off base with what the Mustang Experience was, but without thinking that I may be getting into some seriously kinky shit, I said, “Sure!” Lucky for me, the Mustang Experience at Miller Motorsports Park is a class you can take where you learn to drive the Mustang GT racecars. Sound like fun? Fuck yeah it’s fun. Driving fast is fun, driving muscle cars is fun and riding shotgun with a pro racecar driver makes me need to find a new word in the dictionary that means “fun times 10.” Anyone can do it, even if you drive like my 97-year-old grandma, who can’t drive well, or fast, at all—not because she’s an old lady, but because she’s dead.
â€¨You start the Mustang Experience by taking a crash course in racecar driving. They teach you how to properly negotiate a turn and go over other basics, such as “Don’t drive on the course backwards,” and “Please don’t text and drive the racecar at the same time.” Although, I must admit, as soon as I sat in my racecar, the need to Instagram was pretty overwhelming. I noticed they didn’t say anything about driving the racecars drunk, but that’s probably a given.
After the class, you get to know the track while driving around in a minivan with the other dudes taking the class as the driver tells you what not to crash into. They make you sign a waiver beforehand saying you will pay 40 grand if you do, somehow, total the Mustang, but seriously, I don’t know how big of a retard you would have to be to do that. Even if you spin off the track, you would still be pretty safe.
Then it’s time to fire up the engines. The anticipation of hitting the track while the engine is revving is pretty sweet. I reached for the stereo in hopes of some AC/DC or anything else that would get me juiced while driving fast, but I noticed that the stereo didn’t work. I brought this up to Jason in the follow-up interview, and he said that was intentional. Oh well, I probably shouldn’t be fishing on the FM dial while whipping around the racetrack.
This was literally the first time I had ever driven a muscle car. The power and stability was a bit of a step up from my current whip, an ’06 Jetta. We took about 12 laps following the driver going as fast as we wanted—pretty fucking fun to drive like that without worrying about my insurance rates going up.
After we were done whipping around the track, we got to ride shotgun with the racecar driver to see how the big boys do it. Jason and his buddies have home field advantage and know every curve of the track like it’s been their wife for the last 50 years. Riding shotgun was almost as much fun as driving.
I thought that because of my superior Mario Kart skills, driving a racecar would be second nature for me. In fact, I thought it would be easier than Mario Kart because I wouldn’t have to worry about taking a turtle shell up the ass while trying to take a turn at 70 mph. How hard could racecar driving really be? I drive a fucking stick shift almost every day of my life. Can you really consider a guy an athlete for making left turns? Yes, you can. Turns out racecar drivers aren’t just athletes that turn left. Doing that shit right is pretty fucking hard.
Special thanks to Jason Smith and John Gardner for letting me pretend to be a racecar driver for a day. I would highly recommend that anyone interested in driving fast, awesome cars take the Mustang Experience, or any of the other racing school classes you can sign up for at Miller Motorsports Park. It’s not just that place in the middle of the desert with the go-karts. Seriously, what else are you planning on doing with your boring, stupid life? Go to millermotorsportspark.com for more information.