For those of you that follow along with the NASCAR series, you may know that Jeff Gordon recently drove his last race at his home track of Sonoma. For those of you who don’t necessarily follow NASCAR regularly, you may have heard the news of this being his last season of racing. Having made his debut back in 1993 and has been a fan favorite for generations. While I am personally keener on some of the things he’s done outside of racing – have you seen that Pepsi prank commercial of his?! – it is no secret that the man has certainly driven his own path to greatness. I can vividly remember growing up with friends and family of all ages donning that infamous rainbow-colored gear and cheering on that #24 come every Sunday. Today, nothing is different. We still watch the race. We still route for him. And, now, we’ve welcomed the next generation into the world of Jeff Gordon racing.
As kids, we all have our idols. Had you asked me back then, I probably would’ve mentioned The Spice Girls or any of the popular female athletes at the time. However, had you asked the mister… Jeff Gordon, easy. Most kids opt for an occupation such as a doctor, a police officer, or a teacher, but if you had asked him the age old question of what he wanted to be when he grew up, he would’ve told you “a NASCAR driver.” Unfortunately, the chances of making it to the big ol’ playing field, err, tracks of NASCAR are slim to none. So, instead of growing up to race alongside Jeff Gordon, he grew up cheering him on.
While many would’ve let their childhood dreams go at that point, I am the type of person that is adamant about always following your dreams and achieving new goals. There’s no sense in making a cliché bucket list when you can live every single day to the fullest. Embark on an adventure, try new things, see new sights, enjoy new experiences; go ahead and live on Cloud 9! And, with that, let me introduce you to Cloud 9 Living!
Cloud 9 Living helps folks to truly live out their dreams through various experience gifts that can be, both, given to an amazingly lucky recipient and/or personally enjoyed.
Cloud 9 Living is an Experience Gift company which offers more than 1,900 unique and memorable experiences as unforgettable gifts. With experiences ranging from Stock Car Racing and Scenic Helicopter Tours to Hot Air Balloon Rides and Spa Experiences, Cloud 9 Living has something for every taste and every budget.
Many of you will remember a recent post that I did for Cloud 9 Living showcasing their Stock Car Racing experiences. As if watching these cars speed around the tracks on my television every weekend wasn’t exciting enough, we recently had the opportunity to get up close and personal with these beasts. Now, instead of the mister looking on as his idol raced among the greats, our kids got to look on as their idol had his turn at the wheel. That’s right! Thanks to Cloud 9 Living, the mister got to live out his dream as he climbed into the driver’s seat and sped around one of the most famous raceways in the country and did so in one of the most coveted vehicles!
Now, before I get too far into the amazing, incredible, fantastic, thrilling details of it all, here’s a little backstory of what the Cloud 9 Living Stock Car Racing experience actually is:
Your stock car driving experience begins with a detailed discussion on the operation of the race cars, safety equipment, and track rules. This is followed by an informative tour of the racetrack with a professional instructor. Next, you’ll be fitted for a racing suit and helmet. Then, it’s time to climb in, strap up, and take control of a Sprint Cup style stock car. As you leave the pit and enter the superspeedway, you will experience an adrenaline rush only known to the NASCAR racing world.
And, with that, here comes the fun!
Being here in the northeast, we opted for the one and only Pocono Raceway (the “tricky triangle”) as our experience location of choice though there are many available throughout the country. This paticular Cloud 9 Living Stock Car Racing experience is brought to life in partnership with the Stock Car Racing Experience AT Pocono Raceway.
The raceway is still quite the distance from our house so we ended up leaving rather early in the morning to make the drive there. Along the way, I kept joking with the mister that he’d be tired of driving by the time the day was over but he assured me otherwise. His reasoning – driving ON the raceway would be nothing like driving TO the raceway. Boy, was he right! Even our arrival there made the lengthy trip worth it. Just take a look at this fabulous welcoming!
Once we arrived, we parted ways while the mister headed off to attend the informational class included with the experience. While he got a crash course in all things racing, driving, and track related, we got to sit in the family area (in the pit! THE pit!) and enjoy a preview of what was to come. Prior to his drive time, we watched as many other experience recipients ventured out for the Stock Car Ride-Along version. Young and old, personal purchases, and even a day-of birthday gift surprise, this particular experience was truly an event for the whole family.
As we watched others speed around the track only to return with expressions of sheer joy on their faces, we waiting anxiously for the mister’s quickly approaching drive time. Soon enough, he came out with a classroom full of equally anxious and excited fellow participants and they hopped into a pair of track vans to take their tour of the track itself. At that point, it became real. We were not simply AT the raceway, he was ON the raceway. And, soon enough, he would be the one behind that wheel driving faster than my heart could beat. The kids were already on their feet inching closer and closer to the pit wall so they could get a better look, their smiles a mile wide. For me, I knew that he was quite literally on “Cloud 9” and I couldn’t have been more exited for or proud of him. Also in tow were his parents. Having raised him and watched his love of the sport develop over the years, I can only imagine how happy they were to witness their baby boy finally living out his dream.
Once he was fitted for his suit and helmet, it was finally time to take that leap right through the driver’s side window and into the seat of greatness, of thrill, of Cloud 9 Living.
With the Cloud 9 Living Stock Car Racing 20-mile experience (and with this particular raceway being about 2.5 miles long) his drive ended up being eight laps around the infamous “Tricky Triangle.” They sent the participants out in pairs with a third, instructor-driven, car to lead. Coincidentally enough, the last driver in his pack was given the #24 car (aka Jeff Gordon) so, in a sense, he did get to race alongside his idol… or the car anyway.
They started up the engines and revved them well. The sights, the sounds, the smells… it was nearly indescribable. They exited the pit area and we watched as they drove out of sight. With each lap that they sped past, their speed increased.
The cars flew by faster.
The engines got louder.
The kids got more and more excited.
Now, some of you may remember my mentioning that he is a bit of a car connoisseur. To put it simply, during the booking phase when we were asked if he could drive a car with a manual transmission, he jokingly mocked “Can I drive a stick?!” with a tad bit of sarcastic twang. Having never officially driven a stock car nor set foot (or tire) on a bigtime racetrack prior to this experience, he still knows his way around vehicles rather well. For me, it was no surprise to see that he not only kept up with the instructor-driven car but actually enticed the instructor to go faster and harder. Up in the flag box above the start/finish line, their group was given the go ahead to pass another trio of cars that weren’t going quite as fast. He was officially racing!
We watched and we cheered. Cloud 9 Living took us from our Sunday NASCAR living room viewing and, quite literally, threw us into the action. We weren’t only living on “Cloud 9” at that point, we were watching him as he was living his dream. There are truly no words for an experience like that.
From there, it only got better.
As his last lap eventually slowed to an end, I watched as the instructor in the lead car tore open the window net and signaled to another one of the track instructors. This was something that we hadn’t seen him do all day. The latter of the two instructors helped the mister out of his car and motioned for him to walk over to the lead car. While I couldn’t overhear the words being exchanged, there was a single gesture that put it all into perspective: a fist bump.
After all was said and done, he joined us back in the pit area for a few photos and a quick victory hug and high-fives for the kiddos before heading back to the trailer to change out of his racing gear. As we were leaving (and chatting about how much the instructor complimented him on his driving!), we were sure to stop by the merchandise trailer where I gifted him with the official photographs and video from his entire Stock Car Racing experience. While this was a separate expense from the original experience purchase, I felt that this once-in-a-lifetime experience deserved to be recognized through tangible imagery that we could display in our home. Just think of all of the “remember when” conversations we can now have for years to come!
All in all, I cannot even begin to say enough to get the point across that this was one of the most incredible, insanely amazing, utterly unbelievable, and thrilling experiences that I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing. For the mister himself, it was even more than that. In that moment, there were no more idols, no Jeff Gordon to catch up to. He was the idol. He was Dad.
And in that moment, the dream shifted from one of his own and became that of our children’s. The boys? They’re now looking up to Daddy and they want to be racecar drivers just like him. After all, how fun is some good ol’ “DADSCAR?”
You can enjoy the very same Stock Car Racing experience through Cloud 9 Living in one of two ways – from the passenger seat as ride along or as the driver. Prices start, on average, at $115 and $425 respectively and vary depending on location. With over 1,900 unique and memorable experiences in 43 cities, this particular experience is just the tip of the iceberg. Browse the Cloud 9 Living website and find the best experiences nearest you. Not only do these experiences make for a fantastic adventure within your own life but they are, by far, the best possible gift that I could possibly dream of.
Be sure to keep up with Cloud 9 Living on their social media pages to stay up to date on all of the latest news, new experiences, special promotions, sale pricing, and so much more.
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For those of you local to the greater northeast, be sure to keep up with Stock Car Racing Experience AT Pocono Raceway on their social media pages as well.
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Our experience with Cloud 9 Living was, truly, an experience of a lifetime and I cannot be more thankful to have had the opportunity to witness something so incredible and to see such sheer joy. To say that I highly recommend this would be a horrid understatement so believe me when I encourage you to get out there. Make your life unforgettable. Grab hold of that steering wheel and gun it. Put the pedal to the metal and full speed your way into amazement… into Cloud 9 Living.
Here at Cloud 9 Living we believe that each gift should create a memory; because we don’t remember days, we remember moments.
Life is what we choose to make it and every single day should be spent as if we are living on cloud nine.
For us, we’re onto the next dream… bigger, better, faster, and longer! I know a certain someone that is now eyeing up those longer mileage Stock Car Racing experiences!
Make life extraordinary. Make it great. Make it remarkable. Make it Cloud 9 Living.