Saturday, February 28, 2009


I got a special birthday treat yesterday - my friend Cathy took me along as a guest to a promotional Marlboro Drift Racing event at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, CA. We got to do two ride alongs with professional drift racers in Ford Mustangs on the race track. A super exciting and exhilaring event! And it happened to be on my birthday! The event was called Hot Laps.


Here's me in front of one of the racing Ford Mustangs.

In case you don't know what drifting looks like - here's a short video I shot with my Sony T100 point and shoot camera of a few of the Ford Mustangs squealing around the track.

To start the experience, there was a photo op where we got to put on professional racing suits and stand in front of a blue screen where later an image of the racing Ford Mustang would be superimposed. I'm not posting the shot we took because Cathy and I both look like Stay Puff Marshmallows women in the gear - not cute - but it was fun to do nonetheless.

I thought the racing suits and helmets looked pretty cool though.



Then we were given "gators" to go over our heads and were fitted with the right size helmets so when we got out to the track they would know what size to give us.

Here's Cathy and Me in our gators looking doofy.


Then we went out to an area where they had snacks and a real Indy 500 race car that we could sit in.


Here one of the guys from the event was explaining to me what all the buttons on the steering wheel do.


Then we were taken out to a tent just off the track to wait for our number to be called to get into one of the Ford Mustangs.


Then I walked up onto some bleachers to be able to get a better vantage point to watch the cars racing on the track.



Before we got into one of the cars, we were given hand sign instructions: thumbs up (okay, more thumbs up - go faster), thumbs down (slow down), and pointing to the left (LET ME OUT NOW!!!)


I thought people looked cool lining up waiting for their ride wearing the required helmets.


I wasn't allowed to take a camera into the car (they didn't want anything that could possibly fly around and distract or injure the driver or passenger), but I got this great shot of Me and Cathy after our second race while we still had our helmets on.


Riding along with the professional drift racers was thrilling and scary - kind of like being on an insane roller coaster ride only with more danger and less predictability. You hear the wheels squealing and you smell the tire rubber burning and it's all very loud and fast. I had my left hand gripped onto the edge of the seat and my right hand gripped onto the door and I didn't let go for a second of the ride. If you were drifting sideways in a regular car on a real road, mentally you would be preparing yourself for the worst scenario, but on a track with a pro driver you just have to let go and embrace the fun and uncertainty of the thrill ride. It mentally goes against everything you are used to doing in a car.

After the rides, we were taken to another tent to relax and enjoy a fancy buffet lunch. I'm not a smoker, but Marlboro put on one very nice and adventurous event.

To end my birthday festivities, I was joined later that evening by a few close friends for dinner. We had a great dinner at Anajak Thai on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks. Their food and ambience is really nice.

(Clockwise L-R: Tina, Sonya, Serena, Me, Sheryl)

So all in all, I had a really great 39th birthday! And a few of my friends and family are still taking me out on different days later in the week so I can stretch out my celebrating a little longer. :-)

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