Thursday, December 17, 2015

Lighting the track

The year was 1992, and I was at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the testing of the track's new lighting system.

They had a break for some reason, and they sent out a van full of photographers driving slowly around the track. Then Eddie Gossage, then the track's PR guy (now the head of Texas Motor Speedway), took out a pace car with four reporters in it. I was riding shotgun in the front seat.

We lapped that van at least twice, maybe three times. I didn't look at the speedometer, but we were booking. I'd look to the right, and I could see the wall an arm's-length away. Then I'd see a big expanse of black in the turn, and we'd turn left ... and dirt and grass would fly up behind us!

And while we were doing this, Eddie would look casually over his shoulder and talk to my friend Jim McLaurin in the back seat. I was so tempted to help Eddie with the steering wheel, but I didn't want to make a mistake at 120 or 140 miles an hour.

We probably ran four or six laps in the pace car, and I was so relieved that I got out and kissed the pavement in the garage.

Eddie laughed and jokingly asked if we'd like to go again. I said, no, thanks. I'm good right here.

I never personally felt the need for speed; I only wrote about it.

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