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Posted by: Melanie Troxel
We just got back from Las Vegas where I had the chance to introduce my R2B2 teammates to a personal Las Vegas tradition.
I've always been an adrenaline junkie. I love riding roller coasters, skydiving, anything crazy like that. As such, I've been going to the top of the Stratosphere Las Vegas Hotel and Casino for almost 10 years now to ride the Big Shot. Even before I started driving a Top Fuel car I'd go there, usually dragging unsuspecting friends along and then daring them to ride it with me.
At the Houston race, the team and I went to the Kemah Boardwalk and rode the wooden roller coaster there. That got us got on the subject of the Big Shot and how much I liked that ride. I told the guys we needed to do that ride together when we got to Vegas.
In Houston everybody agreed to ride it with me. But once we got to Vegas and after we'd already sent out a press release saying we were gonna do it, I started hearing, 'You brought it up, but nobody agreed to do it.'
Of course the only thing left for me to do at that point was shame them into it.
Once I finally cajoled them into going, and as we were waiting our turn, I found it very funny to hear the guys nervously talk about the maintenance and general upkeep of the equipment and wonder out loud about the people that take care of these rides.
I drew some immediate similarities to their thoughts because every weekend I put my life in their hands. Like getting on a roller coaster; it's just part of the deal. I will say that I feel completely comfortable in the car because my guys do a great job. Still, it was pretty funny to hear them so concerned about riding something that is infinitely safer than going out there in a racecar.
Everyone had reluctantly agreed to do the Big Shot but there were a few holdouts that didn't make it up there with us. After it was over, the ones that did "man up" and do it told me how much they liked that ride.
The folks at the Stratosphere took very good care of us and offered to let us do all three rides up there, including Insanity and X-Scream. For all the years I've been there, I'd never been on any of the other rides so I was excited for a new experience.
After we got off the Big Shot, some of the guys were a little hesitant to get on the other rides, and we had to apply a little peer pressure to get everyone involved. Eventually, they all went along and I think overall they enjoyed themselves. We're still laughing at the pictures.
It's way too easy during a race weekend to go from the track to the hotel back to the track, and not take the time to do something a little bit fun. You have to plan ahead of time to get so many people out at once and spend time away from the usual grind. I'm glad we did that. I enjoy any opportunity to go for a thrill ride like that. As group, the team enjoyed it and we got to talk about it all weekend long and relive the experience.
The Stratosphere has a new ride up there, the SkyJump, where you drop 108 floors from the top of the needle to the roof of the casino. It's a controlled freefall ride I would have gone on if time had allowed but by the time we got there that night it was closed. It'll be open to the public when we come back in the fall. I'm going on it, but I think it might be a tall order to get the rest of the team to do it also, but you never know.
For the time being we're trying to keep the team going. We're still looking for a sponsor to cover the races In-N-Out Burger doesn't support.
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