If you have at least a few years behind the wheel of a passenger vehicle, you most likely have your share of road trip stories. It could have been a new destination. It could have been your moment of freedom. It could have been a moment in time that you remember forever.
My first big road trip started in the Pocono Mountains with the destination being the Daytona 500. Since I was a rookie driver at the time, my brother piloted his Chevy pickup for the impromptu 2000-mile round trip. For February in Florida, it was unseasonably cold. We showed up at the admission gate in the pre-dawn hours without tickets. Most importantly, we also arrived wearing shorts. The mountain of a man that guarded the entrance to the infield of the racetrack was wearing a massive goose-down jacket and was shivering uncontrollably. He was so impressed that we were wearing shorts that we were admitted to the infield even though it was sold out. Having ‘Poconos blood’ had its benefits on that day.
A few years later, advice arrived from one of my college professors - “Travel when you’re young for life eventually gets backed up with traffic.” It was a year before graduation and the ’96 Olympics in Atlanta. My roommate and I were broke but we immediately made the plan. A few weeks after graduation, we were on the road. Was it a beat up Nissan Sentra? Maybe. We split the driving duties and we were so efficient in travel that our hotel tickets were not yet available upon arrival. We were exhausted. Sleep was in urgent demand. Thankfully, the parking supervisor allowed us to park overnight right next to Centennial Park. Unfortunately, it was the night of the Olympic bombing…and we were awoken by the police with their guns drawn. We thought the explosion was part of a celebration but we were hit with the sad news while riding the MARTA the next morning. We were immediately thankful that we were driving a car that couldn’t reliably travel faster than 75.
Later in life, there were notable road trips to Milwaukee for a wedding and even a 6-hour round trip drive through Poland to visit my great grandmother’s birthplace. Many of life’s enduring memories are made possible by hitting the road. They’re brotherly bonding moments. They’re the moments where you’re thankful to have survived. They’re the moments where you learn that a man shouldn’t golf with the groomsmen after 13 hours in a Kia Sephia. They’re the moments of taking in the sights of a beloved family member. May there be no end to the almighty road trip.
Now imagine you and your buddies getting together to drive and support a 24-hour tour. Dial up the stakes. Make that a professional race. That’s the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. Our friends at TPC Racing have been there. They have won there. If you have a chance, drop in on this weekend’s coverage on the Fox Networks. Now that’s the ultimate road trip! See you down the road.