Simulator puts NASCAR fans in driver's seat

June 16, 1997


Staff Writer

NASCAR fans lined up for a high-octane test drive in a show car simulating Jeff Gordon's No. 24 at Hoffman Chevrolet Monday afternoon.

Engines roared, tires screeched and cars crashed, but no one was hurt.

The "drivers," young and old, were playing a video game, Daytona USA, inside a former Chevrolet NASCAR race car detailed to look like Gordon's Dupont Chevrolet.

"You get to sit in Jeff Gordon's car...It's cool," said Jeff Jones, who had his picture taken with fellow NASCAR fan Lori Shoemaker outside the car.


Tammy Whisner wore her Jeff Gordon T-shirt and brought her children Cody, 6, and Amanda, 9.

"It's really neat," Whisner. "It really makes you feel like you're're right there with them."

When a video game driver "crashed," the hood of the car on the screen wrinkled and the car started shaking. If the damage was serious enough, the driver had to make a pit stop.

Whisner said she collects Gordon flags, shirts, cups and other items. Whisner's family camped out for the Coca Cola 600 in Concord, N.C., which Gordon won.

"I like the way they do it for the children," said Laura McIntyre, who brought two grandchildren.

The car had all the components of a standard NASCAR car, except that the video game computer took the place of the engine and transmission.

"Within a day's time, as old as I am I can have it running," said Lester Bennefield, who tours the country with the car for Cotter Promotions.

"It gives you a lot of the feel of a race car," said Gary Rogers of Martinsburg, W.Va., who said he raced street stock cars for 12 years in Winchester, Va., and Hagerstown before retiring in 1961.

His wife, Beverly, finished the game with a faster time than her husband. "I might just go be a race car driver now," she said. "I'm not a race fan but I really had a lot of fun."

Others were only so-so fans.

"We wouldn't miss a football game for a race or anything," said Cory Highbarger, 15.

His father Paul is a bit more of a fan, although he prefers Mark Martin over Gordon. He said going to races is a family event and is exciting. "It's so unpredictable," he said.

"I just think the game's pretty cool. That's why I keep coming back," said another son, Chris, 17. "I keep whipping everybody."

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