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Walt Disney World Speedway
A new driving experience will officially begin at the Walt Disney World Speedway on January 16, 2012. Known as the "Exotic Driving Experience" the program will allow anyone with a driver's license to get behind the wheel of a "supercar" -- a rarified class of automobile. The Exotic Driving Experience will feature supercars by Ferrari, Lamborghini, Audi, and Porsche; future plans include the addition of other exotic models. The program is offered through the Richard Petty Driving Experience, and it is expected to operate approximately 150 days annually on The Exotics Course at Walt Disney World Speedway, a new track configuration at the motorsports complex. Driving Experiences will start at $189 for six laps around the circuit. Thrill Rides with a professional driver at the wheel will also be available for $99. Although Exotic Driving Experience officially begins after the new year, reservations for 2012 can be made at exoticdriving.com or by calling 855-822-0149.
The Indy Racing Experience, the ultimate experience for race fans and car enthusiasts, began offering the chance to drive or ride in cars that were used in past Indianapolis 500 events at the Walt Disney World Speedway on November 17, 2008. Since 2001, the Indy Racing Experience has been giving patrons nationwide the ride of a lifetime in its customized 2-seat IndyCar Series car at all the tracks on the IndyCar Series schedule. Race fans have also had the chance over the past two years to get behind the wheel of an IndyCar machine and drive around the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Both the drive and ride options will be available at the Walt Disney World Speedway.
The Indy Racing Experience is open 350 days a year. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, and during a two-week span when the PGA Tour hosts an event just outside the track.
Drivers and riders must be 18 years of age or older.
You can reserve online at: http://www.indyracingexperience.com/ or call 888-357-5002. Ask to speak with Shonda Kennedy at extension 106 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prices as of January 2009 are $399 for 8 driving laps and $109 for the 3-lap ride-along experience.
Read Gary K.'s Indy Racing Experience in the AllEars® Guest Blog HERE.
Open every day, weather permitting, except Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Experience may be closed due to inclement weather, testing or private events. Call ahead to ensure that the track is open.
Hours: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Advance Reservations are required for all driving programs.
The official website is: www.drivepetty.com
Visitors are welcome and Pit Entry is free.
There is a shuttle service from the Ticket and Transportation Center, inquire when you make your reservations.
The high speed driving experience now offers 4 types of programs (prices as of 4/10):
Program - Experience real life racing thrills by riding shotgun
in a 2-seat stock car driven by one of our professional instructors
for a simulated 3-lap NASCAR qualifying run at speeds exceeding 150
MPH. You must be at least 16 years old to ride.
- Your hands are on the wheel, your foot is on the gas, and you're
in the driver's seat for 8 laps around the speedway in a 358 cubic
inch V-8 NASCAR style racecar that roars with 600 horsepower. Prior
to driving, students will go through 2 elements of safety and instruction
training, in-car and on-track instruction. After driving like the
"King", students will receive a graduation packet that includes
a time sheet with a breakdown of each lap driven.
Program runs approximately three hours, but can last up to a half
a day. You must be at least 18 years old and have a valid driver's
license to drive. Reservations are needed.
King Experience: Get ready to advance to a higher level of confidence
in your driving ability and take on increased speeds. This program
consists of 2 power packed sessions, 8 laps of rip roaring power and
10 laps of increased speed and excitement. Prior to driving, students
will go through 2 elements of safety and instruction training, in-car
and on-track instruction. Between your driving sessions, drivers will
receive one-on-one feedback from the Pit Road Instructor, as well
as additional instruction from the on-track driving instructors. After
your two driving sessions, students will receive a graduation packet
that includes a time sheet with a breakdown of each lap driven. Reservations
are needed. Cost:
of a Lifetime - Think you can handle 30 laps of white-knuckled,
heart pounding speed? Taming the speedway in 3 driving segments allows
you to improve your driving line, increase your speed and encourages
the idea that you may change careers in this, the ultimate half-day
driving experience. Prior to driving, students will go through 2 elements
of safety and instruction training, in-car and on-track instruction.
Between your 3 driving sessions, drivers will receive one-on-one feedback
from the Pit Road Instructor, as well as additional instruction from
the on-track driving instructors. After your 3 driving sessions of
10 laps each, students will receive a graduation packet that includes
a time sheet with a breakdown of each lap driven.
Reservations are needed.
The Ride-Along Program
The Rookie Experience
The King Experience
The Experience of a Lifetime
Directions: Follow the signs to the Magic Kingdom, keep left approaching the toll plaza. After passing through the toll plaza, turn left at the WDW Speedway sign. Mention that you are going to the Speedway at the Toll Plaza and so you won't have to pay the parking fee.
For reservations and information please call 1-800-BE-PETTY
Ben - March 2001
For my 40th birthday my wife took me to WDW and the Richard Petty Driving Experience. It ruled! I decided to go for the 18 lap Kings Experience which I felt would give me the most for the money. It cost $749.00, all inclusive. It is a thrill I highly recommend to any NASCAR fan or anyone who has ever wondered what it was like to drive 600 horses.
Monday broke bright and clear, and we were off to Walt Disney World Speedway. After going through the main gate of the Magic Kingdom we followed the signs to WDW Speedway. The man in the booth in front of the track waved us through, and I honked the horn as we drove under the track. (I love to toot in underpasses) Emerging on the other side we were in the infield. This is definitely the loneliest place I've ever seen on WDW property.
Disney World Speedway is a 1.1 mile track, with a small pond in the
infield in the shape of Mickey's head. There were 3 or 4 cars parked
next to a plain prefab building in the infield, which holds the Petty
Experience classroom and offices. Tammy signed me in and gave me the
necessary legal waivers. It is about three pages long, and if you take
the time to read it, you will see that it basically says that no matter
what happens, the RPDE is not responsible! I asked, "what happens
if I `dent` the car?" The track manager Shaun said, "you take
care of you, and we'll take care of the car." So
with my concerns that I might be buying a $100,000 pile
of scrap gone, it was time to suit up.
The staff takes a quick look and hands you an off-the-rack jumpsuit. You step in and do up the Velcro straps. (I still can't figure what the big one around the middle is for) Even though these are not fire suits, they do hold the heat. I highly recommend wearing a t-shirt and shorts under your uniform. Street shoes are okay to wear.
Now we get down to the instructions. First we watched a video of The King (Richard Petty for you non-race fans) giving his Ten Commandments of Racing. Then, one of the instructors takes us around the track a couple of times in a van pointing out important markings and cones and giving us instructions about how to drive the car. Our instructor was Steve, and he was very reassuring about the set-up of the cars. (It reminded me of those burros in the Grand Canyon who can walk the trails blindfolded.)
We disembark from the van and then they gave our wives a ride around the track. As our wives "pretended" to be stock car drivers, we were given a review of how to get in and out of the cars, switches and shifting, and the fire extinguisher system (totally unnecessary we are told!). Once we have that info down pat, we are given our helmets and a final pep talk. Then Shaun announces each of us over the PA just like we were real racers. We are each assigned a car that fits our size, and climb in.
HINT: Your head is much bigger with the helmet on so compensate when you are climbing in. One of the track staff straps you in, puts a neck brace on you, and starts the car. OH YEAH, this is it! Suddenly you feel the power under the hood. It is not as loud as I thought it would be. After letting the engine come up to temperature, it is my turn to roll. I am instructed to stay 3 car lengths behind my instructor's car, follow in his tire tracks and remember to watch the flagman for his signals.
I get the GO sign and ease up on the clutch and give 'er the gas. I buck a little but I don't stall . . .that would be embarrassing! (If you haven't driven a vehicle with a clutch for a while, I would recommend practicing before you go.) I get up to 3rd gear by the end of the pits, but I'm losing my instructor. By the time I get to 4th gear, he is half a straight in front of me. This is when I remember I can floor it! Although I am almost pushed through the seat, I catch up by turn three . . . but I don't trust the car and let off going into the turn. I lose him again. It takes me a couple laps before I realize I can pretty much hold it wide open all the way around. Now it is really fun! Round and round we go and I feel like I can pass him, but it's only a dream. I have to remember the rules.
After nine circuits, it is half time. We coast to a stop in the pits and climb out. This is when the instructors tell you what you did wrong and how to improve. I was proud that they didn't make any recommendations.
I suggest that anyone doing this should definitely go for the 18 lap King's Experience rather than the 9-lap Rookie Experience. It takes about five laps just to get use to the car, so 9 laps wouldn't be enough time to really get the hang of it and have fun. After a water break, it's time to go racin' again.
This time we start out faster, and I stick with him right from the start. I feel very comfortable and I am thoroughly enjoying this.
All too soon, it is over. I coast in and hang up my helmet. Pats on the back from the crew, and a big smile from my wife. This was quite a day! We have a small graduation ceremony and we get our official record of our driving. My top average speed was 128.52 mph, and my fastest lap was 40 seconds. We thank the crew, go buy our "official" photographs and get back into our puny rental cars. Back to the real world.
Notes from Ben's wife, Susan:
I thought I would be very bored watching Ben drive. I am not a racing fan. But I was very wrong! It was one of the most exciting things I have even seen. Racing on television cannot even begin to give you the experience of being down on pit row, right next to the race cars. Best of all, we (the other spectator wives and me) got to see our husbands acting like little boys again! Ben was so happy and having so much fun! Worth every penny just to see his face when he climbed out of the race car!
The staff was helpful and very friendly. They were nice enough to take us for a three-lap ride around the race-track in the class van, so we could get an idea of what it's like on the track. Please note that there are no grandstands at WDW Speedway. If you want to do any video taping, you will only be able to see to tape from turn 4, past pit row, into turn one. The spectator area is beside the classroom area on pit row. There is a small tent for shade, but if you want to walk around the area, be prepared for hot sun. Bring plenty of sunscreen and water. The only "facilities" are port-o-potties. Besides watching, there is NOTHING else to do . . . so if you have young children, bring plenty of stuff to keep them occupied.
Class duration: Allow for a minimum of two and a half hours from check-in to finish. Class time will go longer if the class is full, as you will have to take turns with the race cars.
I want to say that my experience on December 27th in Orlando was something that everyone should do.
I am a 45 year old builder/remodler, and married for 25 years. This was a present from my wife, (they don't get any better than this).
I have not been so excited and felt so incredible since I was a teenager. It gives you a new lease on life, and You realize that you CAN take your own daily life to a new exciting level, (it's a wake up call to not take things lightly).
I just wanted to say thank-you to the Richard Petty Driving Experience. I want all in the organization to know that you are providing far more than just some quick entertainment, you are giving people a chance to let a dream become a reality in an environment that is totally supportive and friendly.
I am sure that is exactly how it would be if I were a personal friend of Richard Petty and I went over to his garage to hang out. Thank-you!
OCTOBER 1997 DRIVING EXPERIENCE
Hi, My name is Jim, I am 39 yrs. old at the time of the trip. First time inside a Winston-Cup stock car. Also first time driving one.
The trip to WDW was in October of 1997, so my memory may not be perfect. Once you get to WDW the best thing to do is call to find out how long it will take and also how to secure a ride to the track. Things may change. The length of time is dependent on the number of people in the class. Originally they said allow 3 to 4 hours. Since there were only around 8 people, it only took about an hour & a half. Once you drive you are free to leave. If you have questions, ask. Everybody there knew what they were doing. The pit boss, drivers, pit crews, everybody. Most were friendly. It was very professional. And a lot of fun.
I took the 8 lap 'class'. There was a van from the TTC to the track. It was near the lost and found/kennel building. It takes you right to the track. If I remember correctly, it is not a regular route. You tell the person in the Lost & Found building and she calls the track for you.
At the track there is a trailer with merchandise and stuff. There is also a viewing area with a tent over it. To watch is free. You may go and have a 3-lap ride with a professional driver. This is on a first come first served basis. He will attain approx. speeds of 150 mph. WDW track is a mile long. You do have to sign a waiver stating that driving or riding in a race car is dangerous.
The drivers are directed to a small building on the grounds were the class is. Inside you are fitted with a driving suit that goes over your normal clothes. It is not the same as the professionals wear, but it is better than just street clothes in the event of a fire. Wear shorts & light weight clothing. The driving suits are full length with long sleeves. They give you instruction in a class room setting. Then they take you for a drive around the track, pointing out where on the track you should be and whether you are braking or accelerating. There are cones at strategic locations around the track to help you.
After the tour of the track, it is time to start driving. They also take pictures of you standing beside the car holding the helmet before you drive. These may be seen after you drive and if desired, they are available for purchase. My wife recommended I buy them the next time. There are different cars set up for different size drivers. The location of the seat is not adjustable. When it is your turn to drive they explain what everything is for. How to start the engine and to shut it off. Even where and how the onboard fire system works. (That is when I knew - yeah, this is for real.) It is also a bit difficult to get in the car, as there are no doors to them. You have to crawl through the window.
The cars are ALL MANUAL. If you have never driven a manual transmission I would be very cautious about doing this. The clutch, to me, is 'stiff'. I am no expert, however I have driven semi trucks as well as various other manual transmission vehicles. I had to slip the clutch a little to get it going. One gentleman ahead of me, the real macho type, "let me at it, I can do this, no problem", killed it three times before he was able to get it moving on pit road.
There is a pace car on the track with you at all times. It serves two purposes, speed control & proper line on the track. The idea is to stay at a consistent length behind the pace car and follow him. You can NOT pass your pace car! About the fastest he will go is 125 mph. The warm-up and cool down laps count towards the 8 laps. So you only get about 6 good laps.
Once in the car and properly 'belted' in there were a few moments before it was my turn on the track, so I asked what the difference between this and a real race car was. The answer was scary. The chassis is a complete Winston-Cup chassis just like the racers use. The engine is 'toned down' in horsepower to only around 600 hp. The normal car has around 750 hp. This allows the engines to last longer. During your ride, the flag man will help instruct you, as well as a few hand signals the lead driver uses. This is all explained in the class and the tour around the track.
This was my first time behind the wheel of anything like this. My speeds were only around 116 mph. I thought it was faster then that. It sounds slow but this is only a mile oval track. The speed is the average speed. The force that 'pushes' you to the right of the seat is pretty high. It is way above what you experience in a passenger car. The seats do have sides on them. The cars feel like they are glued to the track, they are adjusted so well. I plan to go back in a couple of years. When I do, I am going to have a ride first. Then do the "Experience of a lifetime", which is 30 laps, 3 - 10 lap sessions. This way I can feel how the car reacts when somebody that knows what they are doing is driving.
If you have questions my e-mail address is email@example.com.
Richard Petty Experience
February 17, 1997
Dianne & Jerry Sudimick, Seymour CT
AWESOME! That is truly the only word to describe the Richard Petty Experience at the Walt Disney World Speedway.
We had first heard of this new Disney adventure in the Delta Airlines in-flight magazine enroute to Orlando last July to attend the Pepsi 400 race at Daytona. It immediately piqued our interest and we couldn't wait to land to find out more information. Unfortunately for one reason or another my husband could not get a reservation either on that trip or again in December.
When planning our trip back for the Daytona 500 this past February I was determined to also make definite plans for his "Rookie Experience" (10 laps/driving). Success! Arrangements were made for the 1 pm class on Tuesday Feb 17th (our last day in Orlando) and my husband started counting down the days, and praying for good weather.
The weekend races came and went without a trace of rain, though it did threaten, but on Sunday night, heading home on the parking lot called I-4 it started to pour, and it continued to do so all of the next day and into the early hours of the 17th. A call to the track told us that the 9 am class had been canceled, but the weather outlook was good for the afternoon - hurray.
We headed out to breakfast at the Trail's End Buffet (wonderful and inexpensive) in Fort Wilderness and then back (by boat) to the MK where we hopped on the monorail for a quick ride over to the TTC. From there the Petty van (which was waiting there) took us directly to the track. (Actually you can drive there yourself, there's no fee to park at the track either for those taking part in the activities or just watching.)
The noise of the engines was the first indication that all was going to be okay for my hubby's class and since we were about an hour early we decided just to check out the facility,etc. After he had checked in at the classroom trailer area and signed the necessary papers (the waiver is really humongous) we headed back to the actual track to watch. As if arranged by the Disney Imagineers, the sun poked through the clouds and it became quite warm. There is no canopy for spectators this time of year.
Now remember, this was his adventure - I had no plans to take part in the Petty Experience. Up to that point the most adventurous thing I had ever done (aside from driving through NYC on I-95 and over the GW Bridge enroute south) was to take the Wall Climbing Class at the Institute (another super Disney adventure), and I was quite proud of myself for that. However, the turning point came with the arrival of the car to be used for rides that day - it was identical to the one driven by our favorite NASCAR driver, Jeff Gordon and I just could not pass up the opportunity to ride in his car....so we/I practically ran over to the ticket booth / concession & souvenir stand and signed up.
I was fitted for my helmet and waited in line with the others - some of whom were waiting to ride in the #3 car which had just arrived - now if you're reading this you must have an interest in NASCAR at some level, and if you are - unless you've been living under a rock...you know that two of the most notable drivers these days (love 'em or hate 'em) are Jeff Gordon (#24), the "Kid" and Dale Earnhardt (#3), the Intimidator - and Dale had just won his first Daytona 500 after 20 years.
So, now it's my turn....phewee. I'm escorted over to the car and perform the most difficult part of the trip - just getting into the vehicle - I'm a klutz - getting on Space Mountain is usually a chore, so this was really an effort. Once inside (whew) I was strapped in quite efficiently, traded some conversation with the driver and had my picture taken by the track photographer. Then we were off - whooshhh.....what a rush. 140 mph around the track three times. I couldn't stop uttering intelligent phrases, like "wow" "golly" "awesome" while the driver maneuvered the car expertly around the track all the time shifting gears, accelerating and braking. All too soon it was over - and I had to some how get out of this thing without embarrassing myself and my husband in front of the now quite substantial gallery. I was on cloud nine - it was truly awesome.
Now it's my husbands turn, and he is more excited after seeing how much I enjoyed my ride. He cant wait for his turn on the track. After a brief tour of the track in vans, and some general instructions on track operations, he is given his jumpsuit and assigned a partner who will drive the track with him.
The class (which is quite large due to the canceled morning session) is divided into two groups and taken back to the pit area. The drivers are now separated from the spectators (and spouses) to wait their turn at the wheel.
First, each one is photographed in front of the Petty Car (the photo ops are numerous) and then they are fitted for their helmets. Each group of two drivers then climbs into their vehicles and follows a pace car to the start/finish line and around the track for 8 laps - his speed got up to 120 mph. (An electronic timing device supplies the drivers with a readout of the mphs per lap, however we were told that this is not always available due to the eccentricity of the equipment.)
To see the look on his face as he completed his laps made it worth every penny spent. He too could only keep uttering "awesome" or "wow" as we turned in the jumpsuit and returned to the Photography trailer to pick out our photos to commemorate the terrific adventure from which we had both just returned!
We recommend this to anyone ... there is an age limit (18) to drive and to ride (16, I think). The price was $89. for the ride (but you can get a discount either with a MKC card or if a member of your family is taking either of the other two classes); the 8 lap "Rookie Experience" was $329 (again there is a 10% MKC discount to bring the cost down a bit).
Just like the sneaker ad sez - "Just Do It" You wont be sorry!!!!!!!!!!!