Speed

A special guest post by my father

By Patrick McFadin

I thoroughly enjoy the thrill of speed. I love the feel of acceleration. I love racing, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. As long as I can remember I wanted to drive race cars. I completely wore out my Snake and Mongoose Hot Wheels.

Years before live broadcasts of NASCAR, I remember hoping ABC’s Wide World of Sports would show a race. I loved seeing Richard Petty’s blue and red 43 flying down the back stretch of Daytona, passing lesser cars with great frequency. I remember the s’s at Riverside International. I remember when ABC News would report who the winner was just before the tape delayed broadcast of the Indy 500 started. They didn’t understand the phrase “spoiler alert.” Occasionally, you would see NHRA Drag Racing.

In the 80’s live broadcasts became the norm. With expanded coverage I started learning about different forms of racing and tracks. That is when I started to learn about how big the Gatornationals were in drag racing. It was in 1986 when I saw Don Garlits run the quarter-mile in 5.39 seconds at 272 mph in Swamp Rat XXX, which later went to the Smithsonian.

I remember watching Indy Cars at Road America flying around Canada Corner at nearly 200. Also, Laguna Seca, diving into the Cork Screw. I remember NASCAR climbing the hill at Watkins Glen.

In 2000, my son Daniel and I, made the trip to Texas to watch the CART (IndyCar) race at Texas Motor Speedway. These cars had never been on a track quite like that one before.

The drivers began complaining about being dizzy from the continuous g-forces. We watched qualifying. The pole position was over 233 mph. Shortly before the race was to start, they cancelled it due to safety concerns.

In 2012, again with Daniel, we watched the Brickyard 400. NASCAR running at the most historic race track in perhaps the world. Visibility is limited at Indy. We sat up high behind pit road, where we could watch the cars come off turn 4, sliding out to the wall heading toward the yard of bricks. It was cool.

One of my favorite memories of speed was riding on Space Mountain with my grandfather. I was 13. We started up the first hill, the coaster being pulled by chain and he said, “10 seconds till lift off.” We crested the hill into the darkness and accelerated to amazing speeds. Flashes of light all around, but not enough to see where we were going. Just when I though I could tell which way the next corner was headed, I was wrong.

We laughed and had a ball together.

Through all the racing, all the passes, and all the curves, my favorite curves still belong to Melanie, my wife of 29 years.

It’s not just the shape, but just living life with her. She throws curves you’ll never see coming. High speed, down hill, up hill, s-curves, left, right, decreasing radius curves, off-camber curves. Every type, she will keep you guessing.

Every time I think I can tell which way the next curve is coming, she throws a new one. She is like driving on Nürburgring. Nürburgring is probably the most challenging closed circuit race track ever built. Located in Germany, in its original configuration it was over 17 miles long with 187 turns. Thrilling in every way. To be able to conquer Nürburgring would have to be one of the most amazing feats in an automobile.

To learn to navigate the curves of Melanie, is even a more amazing feat, and also a thrill at every turn. Once in a while you get scared to death. Once in a while you get it right and come sliding out to the edge, almost out of control. What a thrill. Acceleration is great, but you’ve got to love the curves.

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About Daniel McFadin

Writer for NBCSports.com. Former Sporting News intern. Graduated from IUPUI in Indianapolis with a master in sports journalism in 2014 and from Arkansas State University in 2013 with a degree in Journalism. Originally from Lewisville, Texas, now in Fort Worth. Ask me if I like Star Wars. I dare you.
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