HERE ARE the five
things that were going through my mind as I was being strapped into the
coffin-shaped cockpit of an Indy car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
1. This is where I
2. There is a
working hospital on the grounds; how can that be good?
drivers have died at this track since it opened in 1909, including 23 while
qualifying or practicing, which is basically what I'm about to do now!
4. A.J. Foyt's
last words of advice to me at breakfast, which were, "Don't screw it up,
buddy, or I'll piss on your grave!"
5. Not all column
ideas are good ideas.
And that's when
they hollered, "O.K.! Start it!"
I blame Matchbox.
You know, the miniature toy cars? The Indy racer was my favorite. So when I
heard that the Brickyard was finally allowing people to drive a real Indy car
($399 for four laps at IndyRacingExperience.com), I climbed on. I mean, how
scary could it be?
especially if you're dumb enough to read about Indy racing beforehand. You
don't want to know that an Indy car goes from 0 to 100 mph in less than three
seconds, which is quicker than a Learjet off the line; or that if you hit the
track's wall hard enough, the car will break into 300 pieces, like another
childhood toy: Legos. Mommy!
By the time I was
in the fireproof shoes, suit, headsock, gloves and helmet, I'm sure I was
turning whiter than Edgar Winter at a s�ance. Indy Racing Experience's Scott
Jasek tried to buck me up. "Imagine!" he yelled. "Can you play
Augusta the week of the Masters? No! Can you ride a horse at Churchill Downs
the week of the Derby? No! But you get to drive Indy the week of