The thrill of a lifetime

By Mark S. Price - Contributing columnist
Mark S. Price -

It was exhilarating as I felt myself lift off the ground and begin to fly through the air like Superman himself. I never felt more alive then I was at that very moment.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the thrilling, short-lived flight through the heavens, I gripped the steering wheel of my go-cart with white knuckles as I braced for the plunge back to earth with a thud.

I looked back as I passed my brother-in-law Tony Parker going down the three-tiered slope back to the bottom and stuck out my tongue and said, “Eat my rubber.” I couldn’t believe I was actually in first place. But the race had just begun. We had many more laps to go.

I put the pedal to the metal going into the straight stretch before the first curve to increase my lead. Giddy with laughter, I was having the time of my life. That is until two of my tires lifted into the air causing my heart to beat faster in the adrenaline-charged excitement. I leaned to the right to balance out the four-wheeled motorized machine as it thumped back onto the pavement.

It was almost as if I was on a roller-coaster ride going up the four-story spiral climb before plummeting back to the ground, The only difference is that I was controlling the speed of my bucket of bolts. It felt like I was cruising at 100 miles an hour.

I was on cloud nine!

It was the last night of our four-generation family vacation to Branson, Mo. in June 2016. I had been looking forward to going to the go-cart track and driving the Heavy Metal High Rise all week.

The new steel and concrete go-kart track, installed five years before, towered over four stories into the sky. It was 1,200 linear feet long with 700 cubic yards of concrete and 200 tons of steel. It was massive. But what caught my attention when reading about the totally awesome go-cart race track, like no other I‘ve ever seen, online was climbing a four-story spiral with a thrilling, three-tiered slope back to the bottom.

With eyes as big as saucers, my heart skipped a beat when I read that exciting tidbit of information. I felt like a little kid waiting for the Easter bunny to fill my basket with a plethora of goodies. No doubt about it, I had to take a spin on that speedway.

Friday night finally arrived and the family piled into our vehicles as we made the trek across town to what became the thrill of a lifetime. When I saw the Ferris wheel rising into the evening sky with all its sparkling lights, I knew we were almost to our destination.

My mouth watered at the anticipation! I almost took a tumble with my walker racing my nieces and nephew into the building to purchase our tickets for the most coveted ride of the night.

Our long wait in line was quite another feeling altogether. For awhile I thought I was at Walt Disney World waiting to ride Space Mountain. But this go-cart race track was every bit as invigorating as the indoor roller-coaster.

I’m not sure why my family decided I needed to wait in line with them instead of taking my walker to the exit and entering the attraction from there. It would’ve been much easier, not to mention, drawn less attention to myself.

Since I couldn’t take my rollator through the winding path of the narrow back and forth railings, which made me feel like we were being herded like a bunch of cattle, I had to rely on my nephew Michael West and brother-in-law to get me to my go-cart.

I felt like all eyes were on me as the two grown men placed themselves on either side of me and grabbed a hold of my arms to guide my way. I just wanted to crawl in a hole somewhere and come out when everyone was gone.

However, my embarrassment melted away as I settled into the go-cart which sat in the second position of the first row with two additional lines of the motorized machines beside us.

Hotdog! This was going to be a scream. When I revved my engine, my brother-in-law turned around and gave me a dirty look. I was ready to go. I felt like I was about to drive in the Indianapolis 500 waiting for the green flag to be waved to begin the race. Let’s get this party started!

The anticipation grew as the other 29 drivers took their positions. When the green light signal flashed, our line of go-carts were let out onto the track ahead of the others.

I followed Tony all the way up the four-tier spiral hugging the inside of the track the whole way. As we began our descent, that’s when I breezed passed my brother-in-law. He stayed in my rear view mirror for the remainder of the race.

With five trips around the track, I was having a blast, especially flying into the air going over the hump down the three-tiered slope to the ground. I felt like Jeff Gordon when he won his first race at the 1994 Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte.

However, my first place lead with hopes of winning like the famed NASCAR driver quickly vanished as my nephew Michael charged past me on the inside going up the four-tier spiral. He came out of nowhere.

For the next three trips around the speedway, try as I might, I could not get back in the lead. I’m sure Michael was saying, “Eat my dust,” or some other colorful expression as he cruised on by.

Although I wasn’t able to overtake my nephew for the win, I pulled my go-cart back into the corral with a solid second place finish. The rest of my relatives, including my brother-in-law, came in behind me.

So, I was pretty psyched and felt like I was on top of the world. And just like a little kid, I wanted to go for another spin.

Mark S. Price S. Price

By Mark S. Price

Contributing columnist

Mark S. Price is a former city government/county education reporter for The Sampson Independent. He currently resides in Clinton.

Mark S. Price is a former city government/county education reporter for The Sampson Independent. He currently resides in Clinton.