For most of us, cars serve a specific purpose. They get us to work, our vacation destinations, carry groceries and kids, and are basically just vehicles for transport. Few of us have ever really tested the limits of our sports sedan or the clearance on our SUV, let alone seen what a real, high-performance vehicle is capable of. "Driving is really the only sport where people don't tend to use coaches," says Johnny O'Connell, the winningest driver in the history of Sebring International Raceway. "The best money any driver will ever spend is that which is spent at one of the country's top racing schools." With that in mind, we chose these 13 schools, events, and experiences that aim to help reconnect us the road, the dirt, and the horsepower in our engines.
NASCAR Racing Experience
It's impossible to have total respect for the NASCAR's drivers until you've gotten behind the wheel of a 600 horsepower stock car and approached a concrete wall at around 175 mph. The NASCAR Racing Experience offers you the chance to do exactly that in a real NASCAR vehicle. This isn't a ride-along experience or some sort of lead/follow heavily monitored drive. This is you behind the wheel on a real NASCAR oval – and passing is allowed. Other types of racing might be more elegant, but there's nothing in this world like the fury of 110-octane gas exploding in front of you as the wind rushes by at close to three times the speed limit.
By the way, the wind is rushing by because stock cars don't have side glass. No doors, either, meaning you also get to experience the Bo and Luke Duke method of getting in and out. This is what you call a bucket list item. And after you've had your thrills, get a ride from an instructor if you can. You'll be amazed by what these guys can do with the cars.
How to Enter
Experience Needed: None at all.
Equipment: Everything is provided.
Beware: Losing the ability to crack jokes about NASCAR on account of your newfound respect for the men and cars of the sport.