The 35th season of racing at Michigan International Speedway is heading to a conclusion with next weekend's racing event, the NASCAR Busch and Winston Cup races, the 23rd stop of 2003 for both series. And what better way to start the beginning...
The 35th season of racing at Michigan International Speedway is heading to a conclusion with next weekend's racing event, the NASCAR Busch and Winston Cup races, the 23rd stop of 2003 for both series.
And what better way to start the beginning of the festivities than to give rides in the Busch Series two-seater race car.
Earlier in the year, Motorsport.com writer/photographer Phil Schilke had driven a stock car around the daunting high banks of the 2 mile superspeedway and it would be an interesting comparison to a Busch car at speed in the hands of a series driver.
Joey Clanton gave the nod and I climbed in through the window. Nestled between the roll bars and belted in, Joey gave me a look of "I am not sure I would want to be sitting where you are right now", recalling a previous conversation we had at lunch about the idea of riding vs. driving. Joey fired up the engine and we were off down pit road with Joey rowing the gearbox like he had done this before.
We built up speed through the first turn and down the back straight. Into the third turn, the g forces built up to a level above what I had experienced in the Stock Car School. The loading on the helmet was quite noticeable, both downward and outward and my neck muscles reacted to the tug. We rocketed out of turn 4 down the straight and into the first turn at a pretty good clip.
It was hard to judge speed on the straight, but again the g loading in the first turn told me it was much faster than I had gone in the spring. A couple laps later we pulled onto pit road.
Joey looked over at me and said "Well?" I replied it was not bad at all when you have confidence in the guy behind the wheel. It was not scary at all but more a rush of speed and sound. I shook Joey's hand and climbed out so the next media type could experience the g forces that few people in this world will ever have the opportunity to feel. Wow! What a ride!
Before leaving, I wanted to capture some highlights of the 35th year of racing at MIS. Bill Janitz is a local boy, having grown up in Brooklyn, the town just beyond the 4th turn of MIS, and has attended races here since he was 3 years old. Now an employee of MIS, he feels he has a dream job.
"This has been a great year for MIS. We will have sold out both NASCAR races, and the recent IRL race was one of the most exciting races I have ever watched!
"It was fun searching the archives of MIS history to build the media information on the history of the track, but then I realized that this year is making history with every event. Racing started here in 1968, and NASCAR started here in 1971 with names like Petty, Yarborough, Allison and Gant. And more recently with Jarrett, Gordon and Busch.
"This track's winners are the who's who of the sport! Researching the archives of this great track has been fantastic! And, being part of the current history making events is just super!"
The racing action starts on, Friday, August 15 with the Cabela's 250 Busch Race on Saturday the 16th, and the Gordon Food Service 400 on Sunday the 17th. Stay tuned to Motorsport.com for the up to the minute reports and results from the high banks of MIS.