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Florida Guide > Disney General

Richard Petty Driving Experience

Richard Petty is a seven times NASCAR champion and his ‘Driving Experience’ has evolved to what it is today from very humble beginnings back in 1994. At that time he had just a handful of cars in Charlotte, North Carolina and offered the ultimate stock car experience of driving around the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

It had all started a few years earlier when Petty’s friend Barry Graham, an Australian NASCAR champion, wanted to export his successful business idea of teaching up and coming racing drivers the fundamentals of handling high performance racing cars to the United States. Richard Petty became involved in 1990 and the two men worked together to deliver the driver search program aimed at finding the NASCAR champions of the future. However, over the next couple of years it became more evident that their customers just wanted the thrill of driving a racing car at some of the top venues around the world.

The success in North Carolina was overwhelming and in 1996 Petty opened at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He quickly realised that the potential from the growing tourism market was huge and just a year later in 1997 the third permanent location at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando was officially opened. Today there are over twenty different locations across the United States including a facility at Daytona Beach but let us concentrate on what the visitor can expect at Orlando.

The Ride- Along program is far the most popular, and the cheapest, where you can buckle up next to a professional instructor and experience a three lap NASCAR qualifying run at speeds up to 160 miles an hour.

For the boy racers out there Petty offers a number of driving experiences, but be warned, they don’t come cheap with prices starting at $399.

The Rookie Experience provides the student with two hours of instruction and safety training before jumping into the driver’s seat and roaring away for eight hair-raising laps in a V-8 style NASCAR with 600 horsepower under the bonnet.

If you want to take your driving skills to the next level there are graduated programs of different intensity and price, culminating with the Experience of a Lifetime which provides four sessions of ten laps each, with your own personal instructor providing one to one feedback throughout the day to ensure you get maximum benefit and enjoyment from this ultimate driving experience.

Definitely not for the faint hearted, and you’ll need deep pockets, but this is an experience never to be forgotten.

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Page added on: 7 July 2009
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