Sunday, December 6, 2009
The day before my Birthday, Joe Grigg and I went to a Microsoft event in Alpharetta - about an hour away from our sleepy town of Braselton. A 4GB Zune MP3 player was raffled at the end - and I won it out of about 60 people! That was my first big win at a Microsoft event. What a nice early birthday present.
Birthday morning, Emily made a grand slam breakfast. Lucky me.
By special request, I asked Emily to make pinwheel cookies for my birthday. My Grandmother Messer would make these. I haven't had them in years. They are my favorite cookies, however.
Also for my birthday, Emily arranged for me to do a "ride along" in a race car at Road Atlanta - a NASCAR race track down the street from us. It's a 2.54 mile, 12-turn world-class road course. I was intrigued by the idea but wasn't really excited about it. That changed when I strapped into the car and put on a helmet.
The car I passengered is a restored 1966 Mustang. I think it's a pretty cool car. It's owned and built by the driver.
My driver is an experienced race car instructor as a hobby. By day, he's a Web Designer and co-owner of a consulting firm. He's certified at level 4 - which means there are a variety of things he's allowed to do on the track that levels 1-3 aren't allowed to do. If you're level 1, then you can only pass another car on straightaways. So there's a scheme of priviledges meant to keep things safe and organized on the track.
Anyhow - we were in a group of about 15 cars that were a mix of levels 3 and 4. So all were very experienced drivers. The cars were a variety of makes and models. All were fast obviously.
We were lined up to get onto the track. We were third in line to go. Ahead of us was a newer Mustang model and in first position was a $400K car called a Ford GT 40. The car and driver recently raced at this year's Petit La Mans event and qualified - which is a respectable feat. The presence of this car affected the whole dynamic of the run.
My driver told me he wanted to try to keep up with the expensive car for a lap to see if it were possible. I did not object.
The race track consists of a long straightaway, a shorter one - and the rest of the track consists of s-curves, a z-curve and other nuances. The track is situated on rolling hills. So at one point, you go screaming downhill toward a sharp turn. At several points, the track climbs a hill and one can't see the track ahead until it's too late - so to speak. A driver really has to know the layout of the track - or else.
So we tear off the line to try to keep on the GT 40. I couldn't believe how fast a car could go around turns without flying off the road. Motivated by the challenge - my driver was able to stay with the super-fast car for three whole laps. During that run, we passed the Mustang in front of us and tailed the GT 40 directly. Finally we started passing the slower cars and got into traffic that slowed us down. We went all-out, squealed around turns and the whole bit. It was like being in a real race.
In summary, the quest was a bit insane - but I haven't had that much fun in a long time. Thanks Emily and the Caspers!
This birthday finds me sliding into the 2nd half of my 30's. Of course I want the 2nd half of my 30's to go well. I've got a few quests lined up that I think will make things interesting. Wish me luck.