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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET


Laura Ingle

New York, NY


NASCAR Pushing For Diverse Drivers

July 17, 2010 - 5:28 PM | by: Laura Ingle

When you think of a NASCAR driver, you may not picture a young woman zipping around a racetrack going nearly 200 miles an hour in a 34-hundred pound stock car.  Times have changed, and so have the faces of  NASCAR competitors, with the help of The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing “Drive for Diversity” program.  Since 2004, the program has been helping women and minority drivers fulfill their need for speed by putting them behind the wheels of fast moving stock cars with top notch coaching and sponsorship opportunities they may not have had in the past.  NASCAR is the 2nd biggest sport in the country behind the NFL, and has some of the most loyal fans. Any fan would tell you that going to a race in person brings a 5 sense experience like no other. The brightly colored cars move so fast, they blur when they pass you. The sound of the loud engines roar down the track, the smell of rubber on the road is so strong you can taste it; and of course, the rumbling in your seat when the cars pass will make your heart race.

NASCAR is teaming up with BET Networks for an inside look at what it takes to become a NASCAR driver with a new docu-series called “Changing Lanes.”  Like many other reality based TV shows, competitors live in the same big house, and work on achieving their goals with cameras rolling every step of the way.

This week, our Fox News Team was invited out to the Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania to join cast members for a spin around the speedway to see what it’s really like to put the pedal to the metal and bank turns going at top speeds.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the thrill of climbing into a stock car window and getting strapped into the seat was exhilarating beyond belief.   I don’t think I realized I would be in the car by myself when I first signed up for this, I thought for sure I would need some “adult supervision”, so to speak, but the Stock Car Racing Experience at Pocono is all about giving you the chance to live the NASCAR dream.  You are fitted in a fire suit, and helmet which is literally strapped to the driver’s seat so that your neck doesn’t snap if you tumble in a crash.  A morning lesson with experienced staff gives you the basics of the knowledge you will need out on the track, and then it’s time to “gas and go” and it’s a LOT harder than it looks!  My hat, or helmet as the case may be, is off to all competitors, especially the women of NASCAR who drive these tracks all the time.  It takes a lot of strength to handle these big beasts, and taking a turn at 180 mph plus is serious business.   One false move, or look the wrong way can send you into a wall, which many have seen in sports highlight footage, but is something you definitely don’t want to find out firsthand what it feels like.  My top speed?   Watch the video attached here to find out!

Photo Gallery
Laura Ingle in fire suit ready for ride
Image 1 of 16
  • Laura Ingle in fire suit ready for ride
  • I brought my best Chuck Taylors for good luck
  • FNC Cameraman Rob Ginnane films the fire suit fitting
  • The legendary Pocono Raceway in Long Pond Pennsylvania
  • Pocono Raceway instructor teaches us how to get in and out of car
  • Inside of my stock car #24
  • I loved the gear shift - reminded me of my old 1967 Mustang
  • Getting my HANS (head and neck support) device before ride
  • Andy Welch helping me into my stock car
  • Strapping in for a fast ride!
  • Last minute check
  • Last minute coaching before I pull out of the pit
  • Meeting Dr. Joseph R. Mattioli Pocono Raceway CEO & Chairman, and his wife Dr. Rose C. Mattiloi (standing behind me)
  • FNC Producer Mike Sorrentino got a turn at the wheel as well.
  • Ready to roll!
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