Skeet’s Beat – Go Skeet Racer Go

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SkeetBlogI got a huge rush of adrenaline this weekend.

If you remember back a few years ago, I was introduced to Brian Barnhart, the President of the IZOD Indy Car Series and Kevin “Rocket” Blanch; the Technical Director for the Series. Brian and Rocket are both bass anglers and we struck up a friendship and we stay in touch.

Whenever the Series comes west to Infineon Raceway at Sears Point in Sonoma, we get together and they had a surprise for me this year.

They told me a couple of weeks ago that I was going to ride in one of the National Guard two seater cars on the track. Then, as the day got closer, I found out that not only was I going to be riding on the track, but my driver was scheduled to be Mario Andretti.

That kind of got me excited, because Mario is one of the best Indy Car drivers in the history of the sport, and I couldn’t believe what I was going to get to do.

I got to the track on Saturday and got all checked in, said hi to Brian, Rocket, and some other friends at the race. Donnie is the right rear wheel changer for Marco Andretti’s team, and I know Glenn, the crew chief for the National Guard car, so I made the rounds and said hi.

After hanging out in the pits and the garage area during qualifying, I went and got registered for the ride along. They outfitted me with an IZOD fire suit, race shoes, fire hood, gloves and helmet. I got to meet Mario and talk to him for a few minutes before the ride. He made us all laugh when I asked him if he fished. He responded kind of mischievously, “No, not really.”

I got to talk to Al Unser Jr. for a little while too, and that was pretty cool. To be there with Indy Racing Royalty was unbelievably humbling and honoring.

Anyway, they strapped me into the car as the first person in the seat behind Mario for the demo rides; which was cool because it meant that I got two laps instead of one. The first lap was pretty quick and exhilarating, but then he made the first turn and punched it and I couldn’t believe the rush of that car as it went from 30 MPH to 100 in about three seconds.

By the time he reached the top of the hill on the front straightaway I thought the car was going to spin out, but it stuck to the track and whipped around the corners. They tell me that the cars pull something like 3.9 G-forces in corners at Infineon. Then we hit the back straightaway and he accelerated again and I’ve never felt anything like that speed.

We got back to the pit area and I was so pumped up with adrenaline that I really didn’t know what to say except wow. That was one of the most exciting things I have ever done. Thank you so much to Brian, Rocket and all of IZOD Indy Car for setting that up.

We went to the race itself on Sunday and they had a privately owned stunt pilot jet team called Patriots Jet Team www.patriotsjetteam.com that performed for 15 minutes before the race; that was the best air show I’ve ever seen.

In the race itself, Will Power won from the pole; it was a pretty exciting race. We took some friends with us who had never been able to go before, and to see the excitement of the experience with them was fun. Advanced Angler was able to come to the ride along on Saturday, and they’ve put together a video of it that I’m sure you’ll enjoy – maybe not as much as I got to, though.

I’ll have the video and a photo gallery on my website soon too – www.skeetreeseinc.com

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