Evan J. Smith
December 17, 2013
Photos By: AWOL Photo LLC/Eric Tillotson, Brad Adler, Diane Smith

Green, Green, Green

When the green flag waived, I gave it the power and adrenaline poured through my veins, my senses were heightened and I was finally racing. Two cars passed me diving under me into Turn 1, but with cold tires and brakes, I resisted the urge to fight back. I first needed to learn limits of the car and the track, and it was vital I get everything, including my brain, up to temp.

I followed a modified Ford LTD, of all things, and a fast import for a few laps, but I soon realized I was quicker. Our Mustang drove really well; the steering, brakes, and balance was what I'd anticipated. I began to push the Mustang harder, just a little each lap.

Despite starting near the front of the field, we were penalized four laps due to the coilover front struts and a few other mods (Chump assess lap penalties for what it considers "acceptable" mods). But with V-8 power and good handling, we were on the march.

By lap four I'd passed the LTD and the import, and I was catching and passing slower cars. I was surprised at the Mustang's ability to close the gap on smaller, lighter cars under braking (I figured they would have the edge in the corners), so I used that to my advantage.

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I made careful moves and was building a rhythm. The twisty, flat infield section is really fun, and much of the time I was surrounded by racers battling for position. The action was intense, and I had to be on my game, constantly checking mirrors and choosing the best line to make passes and not get cracked into. There are plenty of passing zones, and I noticed a good amount of cautious moves and gentlemanly racing.

The final infield turn is an increasing- radius lefthand sweeper that jettisons you into NASCAR 1, where you shoot onto the banking. Early on, I closed on two BMWs in NASCAR 1. I ran low behind them, then slipped high towards the wall to move around them. It was my first pass on the super speedway, and it felt awesome. Running the banking was every bit as cool as I'd imagined. You're up there forever—the engine is howling, the cornering forces compress you in the seat, and you find yourself looking only through the upper left corner of the windshield. If you look straight ahead all you see is a wall of asphalt over the nose. And you're in the gas forever.

The ChumpCar Series is competitive, fun, safe, and an affordable way to race wheel-to-wheel with your friends and family.

Turn 1 blends into Turn 2, which slingshots you onto the Daytona Superstretch. My speed was approaching 145 mph. Though not fast for professionals at Daytona, it was plenty fast for my skill level (or lack thereof), and the fact that I was in a mostly-stock Fox.

Next up is the Bus Stop, a high-speed chicane that is way faster than it looks. Getting through the complex takes precision—a mistake can send you into the inside fence or spinning into the outside wall. Of course, you can run through it slow, but it kills your exit speed. Approaching the Bus Stop, you're running wide open, and you have lots of time to think about exactly when you will brake. Your right foot is itching to get off the gas, but you hold it down as long as you can. Your brain is going, wait… wait… wait… then BAM! BRAKE, downshift, and flick the wheel left. The car barely gets turned in and set on the suspension before you flick it to the right to nail the second inside apex. If you do it right, you're aligned at the corner exit and you can get back to wide-open throttle and hold it.