The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is technically the home track for NASCAR Xfinity Series driver and Hinckley native Matt Tifft. But until just a few weeks ago, he had never even seen the place.
Tifft, who will drive the #19 Akron Community Foundation Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in Saturday's Mid-Ohio Challenge, said he played the video game iRacing.com and will race in a Trans Am race to learn the track. He missed last year's race while undergoing treatment for a brain tumor.
Now back on the track and running his first full Xfinity Series season, Tifft is currently seventh in the championship standings. He plans to work with the Akron Community Foundation to help build awareness for brain tumor research.
Tifft joined Jasen to talk about Saturday's race, his partnership with the Akron Community Foundation, his recovery from the brain tumor, and racing against drivers from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
"Race car drivers aren't athletes."
I hear that one all the time. I know better because I've been a race fan my whole life. And I'm almost certain none of the people who say it have ever been in a race car at speed before.
Thursday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, I had that opportunity.
Thanks to the Pirelli World Challenge and K-PAX Racing, I was able to get in the passenger seat of a McLaren GT two seater with pro driver Bryan Sellers at the wheel as part of the runup to the series' two races at Mid-Ohio this weekend. It was one wild ride.
Sellers says the car gets up to about 160 mph in the high speed portions of the Mid-Ohio road course. But you don't really feel the speed until you're under braking. The rapid deceleration ahead of the corners slams you forward into your seatbelt and really makes you appreciate just how fast you were going.
We only took one lap but I got out of the car exhausted and drenched in sweat, the G-forces and heat taking their toll in less than two minutes. It was an experience I'll never forget.
Check out video of Jasen's ride and an interview with driver Bryan Sellers: