Who is more admirable—the innocent folks who strap into the passenger seats of racecars, or the sly people who convince those folks to sit in the first place?
It depends. There’s a hint of nastiness in some of these filmed ridealongs, which really ought not to be made with subjects suffering from a heart condition, but on occasion, this sort of experience rapidly converts a shy neophyte into an avid petrolhead.
Getting into a 505-horsepower Corvette Z06 for a filmed hot lap has to be exhilarating, terrifying, and for a mother used to her son’s hijinks, probably quite annoying. However, a V8 Supercar is a different animal entirely, and even for a woman who’s obviously interested in the sport, the experience is something she wasn’t ready for.
You can’t really blame her; it’s such an alien experience that really can’t be enjoyed anywhere but in a fighter plane. The first time I rode alongside a professional in a real racing car, a Sports 2000 at Sonoma Raceway, I experienced a powerful mix of fear and disbelief. As much as I thought I knew, that experience totally re-wrote my book on automotive performance. Afterwards, I was hooked—and had to massage my sore neck.
There’s just so much that’s foreign to many of us. The obscene heat is startling, though as an Aussie, she’s probably not as fazed as the typical Swede, say. Yet, the lateral forces and the proximity to the walls at those speeds probably have her heart rate well above 150 beats per minute, and that strain is visible on her face. Even before they leave the pits, her screams harmonize with the whine of the gearbox.
Yet, after a shocking few laps, she’s converted; her anguished appearance is replaced with one of pure joy. Ecstatic. Over the moon. Call it what you like, but that expression is too blissful to be purely polite.