It began as the dream of one man; it was to become the fulfillment of a dream for thousands

In 1987, Barry Graham created a company in Melbourne, Australia called NASTRAK in order to help identify potential drivers. This company also taught the basics of racing but in a unique way. Each driver was graded on his/her ability to hit certain marks on the track while following an instructor. Each student would choose the speed they would travel and receive points based on how well they achieved the mark. The top 25 were invited to compete in a shootout at the Thunderdome, which is an Australian world-class super-speedway. Following great success of this attempt, he tried to bring the idea to America.

In 1990, Richard Petty became involved and helped with the driver search program in the United States. However the prgoram was changed to be what its customers really wanted, the chance to drive a stock car at real race tracks. In 1994, the company became know as the Richard Petty Driving Experience, or RPDE.

RPDE ran a limited schedule at Charlotte Motor Speedway and soon added Atlanta Motor Speedway to available tracks. 1996 saw the company grow when it added its second permanent operational facility when it added Las Vegas to the list of tracks. In 1997, RPDE grew when it added its busiest and third facility at Walt Disney World Speedway. This year also marked the first time the show went on the road by going to Pikes Peak International Raceway and Daytona International Speedway. Working with Daytona USA, RPDE added a 24-lap driving program on the fabled speedway, the Daytona Experience. This event opened in 1999.

The Richard Petty Driving Experience has added several tracks including its first Road Show tour in 1998. In the same year, the company broke the its record of over 1 million miles run without injury. RPDE is know international with a facility at Rockingham Motor Speedway in Corby, Englang. The racing program continues to expand with places at Michigan International Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway and Chicagoland Speedway.

Some prices from the website

At Walt Disney World Speedway

  1. Ride-Along $89 -- Ride shotgun with a racing instructor on a qualifying lap

  2. Rookie Experience $349 -- 8 laps of you driving around the track

  3. King's Experience $699 -- 18 laps of you driving around the track

  4. Experience of a Lifetime $1199 -- 30 laps of driving around the track

At Michigan Internation Speedway
  1. Ride-Along $99

  2. Rookie Experience $389

  3. Kings's Experience $849

  4. Experience of a Lifetime $1249

Source for this is for all the information and the opening quote. Facts and figures from the website as well. This would be something that I would love to do, if I could ever justify spending the money. The Experience of a Lifetime would be unreal.

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