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June 19, 2012  |   By Suzi Elliott

Toss and Turn: My Ride in the Daytona Prototype Two-Seater

No day is “normal” here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, one of the many reasons I’m a lucky lady who gets to work at her dream job!

Today we were scheduled to give rides in a two-seat GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype to a few media members from the Indianapolis market. These rides are designed to encourage outlets to get excited about our upcoming Kroger Super Weekend at the Brickyard on July 26-29.

This event will be a first at IMS, as the track hosts four races in three days. We will convert our track from oval to road course and back to an oval in less than 72 hours. Oh, our poor Facilities staff!

I am sure the Kroger Super Weekend will be a great event for fans and the competitors. It’s a lot of work for a facility, but we are up to the challenge.

Back to the racetrack today. As I prepared this morning for media rides, with a list in hand, never in a million years did I think I would get the opportunity to take a Daytona Prototype two-seater ride, courtesy of Continental Tire and Michael Shank Racing.

A media member had to scratch a ride due to a breaking story. So my boss looked at me and said, “Do you want to ride?” After much – and I mean MUCH – hesitation, I said I would think about it. After I was convinced to take a motion-sickness pill and let it “kick in,” I said why not?

So the staffer running the rides said, “I have a suit available; let’s get you in this thing!”

I was a nervous wreck – with good reason! And then I thought about that turkey sandwich for lunch. Hmmmmm, was that a good idea? Had I given the motion-sickness pill time to work?

But there was no time for further worry or questions. So I suited up and realized I wasn’t wearing the most appropriate shoes, black patent flats. The crew told me my shoes were definitely a first!

As the crew handed me a helmet, I became even more nervous! I put on the helmet like I have seen so many great drivers do. I think I impressed them that I even knew how to work the chin strap. I have been involved in racing my entire life; I can do this, people.

Then they were loading me in the car, and I mean loading. There is NO extra room in a DP car!

After joking around with the driver, Brian Frisselle of Michael Shank Racing (I think I am old enough to be his mom!), they strapped me in and shut the doors.

I was not expecting to be launched off the Yard of Bricks like a torpedo out of a submarine!

We were at Turn 1 of the IMS road course in no time! Then the shifting and braking begins. Words cannot describe how hard you are thrown into that turn! I mean, give a girl a little notice!

We proceeded to take the remaining turns hard and fast! By the time we were at Turn 11, I wasn’t feeling the best. That’s the answer to my turkey sandwich for lunch!

I hoped and prayed this Frisselle kid knew what he was doing. We entered Turn 13, and I had enough and wasn’t afraid to tell him! We headed to pit road and stopped near the glorious Yard of Bricks. I had never been so glad to see my co-workers.

Out of the car I climbed after only one lap. Not ashamed to admit it, I think it was better than the alternative of losing my lunch!

After I gathered my thoughts and tried to find my stomach, I realized I had just had the opportunity to do something very unique and special. I took a lap at speed, even if it was only one, around The Greatest Race Course in the World – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

I had shared the track with the ghost of greats of days gone by and the brightest stars of today. Magical. Unforgettable.

Suzi Elliott is the Media/Public Relations Liaison for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.