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.
Too Tough To Tame 200, held in Darlington, South Carolina, marks the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' return to Darlington Raceway. Starting at 7:30 p.m., racers will take to the oval-shaped track for 200 miles of swift shifting and fast-paced fun. Watch with admiration as the wallpapered automobiles loop the famed 1.366-mile raceway, cheering for your favorite wheels as they work toward record-breaking times and ultimate toughness. With the gates opening at 10 a.m., arrive early to get your peepers in on the practice and qualifying action, or to take advantage of the included pre-race pit pass to score yourself some pro-drivers' signatures. The adult pit pass, which requires the wearing of shoes and shirt, is valid from 10 a.m. to 6:45 p.m.
Inside South Carolina’s 47 state-registered parks, visitors explore secluded forest trails, sweeping cerulean lakes, roiling saltwater surfs crashing on white beaches, and streams and rivers overgrown with thick canopies of trees. The protected areas, many of which were assembled nearly a century ago by the Civilian Conservation Corps, encompass more than 80,000 acres and span turf from the rambling Blue Ridge Mountains to the sandy Atlantic-coast beaches. Abundant activities for guests include canoeing, fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding, and accidentally startling long-forgotten lumberjacks wearing headphones.
Visitors experience colonial history up close at some parks, where registered historic homes, plantations, and landmark buildings stand preserved or in their natural state. These structures grant a glimpse into the lives of European settlers, Native Americans, and African Americans through building tours, archaeological collections, and live history demonstrations. Overnight camping is available at many parks, ranging from primitive campsites to cabins, villas, and tent sites that offer running water. Much like a scientist designing a soda-can-powered robot, park administrators follow a rigorous recycling program to ensure the preservation of the wilderness.
The water hazards at Lakewood Links may seem innocuous at first glance—until golfers realize that they are seemingly everywhere. Waterways come into play on 11 holes throughout the round, often in positions that leave golfers little room for error. On the ninth hole—a 421-yard par-four rated the most difficult on the course—a pond intersects the fairway right down the middle, making golfers think twice about hitting their driver off the tee. The par three 13th hole is the course's signature track, and for good reason: from the tee box, golfers take aim at a scenic island green stationed 173 yards in the distance. Before rounds, golfers can warm up with practice strokes at the driving range or by using their tees as chopsticks over lunch at the Bamboo Bar.
Course at a Glance:
Shannon Greens Golf Club's emerald-tinged fairways and lush, well-trimmed greens highlight this challenging par 72 course, which sends adventurous pairs on an 18-hole odyssey across its many lakes and slopes. Send pearly projectiles hurtling over water hazards on seven holes lined by watery shores, where ball-eating oysters greedily wait. Golfers cast picture-picture tee shots onto the course's signature island green, which players can travel back and forth to in a zippy cart. The course’s 18 holes are as well rounded as the dimpled spheres that litter their ridges, featuring an equal ratio of five par 3 and five par 5 holes. A slightly above average slope rating of 120 presents a formidable challenge for newcomers and experts alike. Shannon Greens Golf Club also offers a luxurious outdoor clubhouse deck, where golfers can enjoy a drink under a thick shade of palm trees.
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.