Students at Fast Track High Performance Driving School don't need to prove that they can parallel park—they're more concerned about taking a turn at more than 100 miles per hour. Most of them have never even felt the rumble of a 600-horsepower engine before. After plenty of safety debriefing from expert instructors, however, they usually are no longer intimidated by its purr. They'll then hop into the vibrant shell of an ARCA-style stock car, a former racing vehicle that's still capable of rocketing down the track at a blur-inducing speed of 165 miles per hour.
Since 1989, the school has been fulfilling speed-demon fantasies with its courses and ride alongs at racetracks throughout the country. The staff meets with everyday fans and aspiring competitors alike to cover racing protocol, safety, and appropriate postrace dance moves. Depending on the depth of their lesson, pupils might take the wheel during a four-car passing exercise or simply sit back in the passenger seat as a professional flies through three–five laps.
Former professional driver and expert instructor Randy Baker and his team have been guiding drivers toward greatness for more than 20 years; past pupils include Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Jeff and Ward Burton, and the shadowy pit mechanic known only as Racer X. At SpeedTech Auto Racing School, Randy combines a fleet of super-speedy rides—authentic, metal-bodied vehicles boasting 650-horsepower V-8 engines—with a serious emphasis on safety to prepare drivers for any mishap on the track. Gearheads, speed junkies, and people who still sleep in a racecar bed despite their adult children's protestations soak up Randy's knowledge during one of SpeedTech's many race programs, varying in length from 3 laps to more than 100. With the school's built-in HD video feeds, drivers can commemorate their laps or prove to the family car it's been cheating on them with the hotel's valet.
Buck Baker Racing School allows speed-hungry race fans to strap into an authentic Sprint Cup stock car and take it out for a leisurely spin around the Atlanta Motor Speedway. The school's masters of acceleration will instruct motorpupils during a roughly one-hour pre-drive class. Afterward, take shotgun while wearing the provided helmet and fire suit along with tennis shoes inside a bona fide, previously driven Sprint Cup Ford, Chevy, or Dodge. You’ll ride along as your instructor powers around the speedway, during which they'll dish out informative tips on driving and snappy catch phrases such as, "Zounds! I own 300 shares of Apple stock!" Once rookie racers are ready, they'll switch seats with instructors and kindle rubber with 10 full laps around the speedway's 24-degree banked turns, imagining that 53,000 spectators are cheering them on as they take a respectable 17th place out of 12,000 cars.
ArtWorks on the Square inspires the creatively disposed with a variety of classes, workshops, and events. Encourage your inner artisan with a Vino Van Gogh Night class, which offers a night of painting, conversing, and wine drinking from 7 p.m.–9 p.m. on the second Friday of every month. Each vinely inclined class can accommodate up to 12 students and is led by a professional canvas caresser, who issues step-by-step instructions to help keep brush strokes on the straight and narrow and prevent students from accidentally painting a hole in the universe.
For more than 25 years, Play It Again Sports has bedecked kids and adults with high-end, wallet-friendly athletic armor and gear so that they can kick, swing, punt, and take flamboyant exception to referee calls with gusto. New inventory arrives every day, and the friendly staff can lead quality-seeking shoppers to the top brands lining the spacious storefront shelves, including Callaway, Titleist, Nike, Adidas, Easton, Prince, and more. Prices vary by item, but you'll have enough credit to purchase a ton of different athletic accouterments. Baseball fans can outfit themselves with an Easton BMX baseball glove ($29.99), while divot devotees can load up on a dozen Titleist PROV1 recycled golf balls ($19.99). Otherwise, get started on a random collection of medicine balls, hockey sticks, and 25-pound weights so that you're prepared to play any sports that appear to you in dreams.