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‘It’s as real as it gets’: Take a spin in a real stock car at Myrtle Beach Speedway

Ever wonder what it’s like to take a spin in a real NASCAR stock car?

Well thanks to Myrtle Beach Speedway, you can find out firsthand.

In a partnership with NASCAR Racing Experience, the local speedway offers you the chance to ride shotgun or drive a retired NASCAR stock car.

“It’s as real as it gets,” said Jennifer Willard, Director of Sales and Marketing for the NASCAR Experience and Myrtle Beach Speedway. “If you want to ride in a real NASCAR race car, you need to stop by here.”

Myrtle Beach Speedway has three cars used for the NASCAR Experience: a No. 24 car once used by Jeff Gordon, a No. 8 car once driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the famed No. 43 car, made famous by Richard Petty and later driven by others.

“All of our cars are authentic, so an opportunity to get into someone else’s car that you can say you drove Jeff Gordon’s race car, you drove Dale Earnhardt’s car, it’s something that we really take pride in here at the speedway and in the NASCAR Experience in general,” said Steve Zacharias, Myrtle Beach Speedway General Manager.

A “Ride Along” session is $50 and includes three laps, and a “Practice” session in which you drive the car five laps costs $199.99. There are also other upgraded deals that include more time or laps. The NASCAR Racing Experience is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

“For anyone in town on vacation, I would say No. 1 that it doesn’t take up much of your time and it’ll be something that you remember forever,” Zacharias said. “You can come out, take a ride-along, be here for 30 minutes or you can stay for hours if you want.

“But if you’re a vacationer, it’s not something that eats up all of your vacation. But it’s something that you’ll be able to go back and tell all of your friends that you rode in a race car at Myrtle Beach Speedway.”

Those who choose a Ride Along will sit shotgun aside Bill Zacharias, Myrtle Beach Speedway’s NASCAR certified driver and a former stock car driver, as the car hits speeds up to 100 mph on the 1/2-mile track.

“Whenever you take off in one of these real NASCAR race cars, you’re going to take off right down the straightaway at about 100 mph,” Willard said. “It’s really an adrenaline rush and a great and really fast ride.”

Steve Zacharias said he’s been racing since he was 5; therefore, riding at high speeds is nothing new to him. However, he says the ride will impress everyone, from the biggest gear head to those who know nothing about stock car racing.

In fact, Zacharias says, the less you know might make the experience even more exhilarating.

“The NASCAR Racing Experience is built for just about anybody, but for someone that’s never been in a race car, been a fan of racing, it’s so much fun to see what goes on inside a race car,” he said. “I always tell people that the ride-along is probably the most fun because you’re in the passenger seat with no control. You don’t know who we are. You’re just hoping for the best when you sail off into the corner. Obviously we have experience, but that thrill of the unknown sometimes is very exciting.”

Myrtle Beach Speedway is celebrating its 60th anniversary. Over the years, the likes of both Dale Earnhardt Sr., Jr. and Richard Petty have raced here. Each year other notable drivers make their way to the track for some of the bigger events and other up-and-coming talent can be seen here week in and week out.

While you might not be aspiring to become a driver yourself, the NASCAR Racing Experience will at least give you a glimpse into the everyday lives of these real-life thrill-seekers.

“It’s as real as it gets,” Willard reiterated.