Ian Baker-Finch, the 1991 British Open champion and golf television analyst, experienced the sensation of the daunting 31-degree high banks of Daytona International Speedway when he got behind the steering wheel of the No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet in the Richard Petty Driving Experience.
Baker-Finch, a native of Australia who now lives in West Palm Beach area, visited "The World Center of Racing" with a friend who was celebrating a birthday. Baker-Finch participated in the Daytona Experience of RPDE, which gave him the opportunity to drive a total of 24 laps around DIS.
"It was an awesome experience," Baker-Finch said. "I've done a little bit of driving on some road course circuits just for fun but this is a blast. To ride on banking at 30 degrees or more at 160 mph is sweet. I had a great time."
These days, Finch focuses mainly on golf course design work and television, where he has served as an analyst for ABC/ESPN for the past eight years and next year will join CBS Sports.
Baker-Finch says he is a car enthusiast and finds himself tuning into races whenever possible.
"I watch whatever is on," Baker-Finch said. "It depends on the time of day and where I'm traveling too. I use to watch a lot of Grand Prix racing and I watch NASCAR now. At home I use to go home to the Porsche Cup races. In Australia, we have a V-8 series, which is similar to NASCAR."
Baker-Finch enjoyed Friday's Richard Petty Driving Experience so much that he was already thinking about his plans for his next visit to Daytona International Speedway.
"I want to do 50 laps," Finch quipped.
The Richard Petty Driving Experience is wrapping up its 2006 season at Daytona International Speedway this weekend but will return in the spring of 2007. For more information on the Richard Petty Driving Experience, visit www.1800bepetty.com.
Tickets for Speedweeks 2007 and the 49th annual Daytona 500 are available online at www.racetickets.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.