Two-time Pro Bowl punter Dustin Colquitt’s impulse was to mash the gas pedal to the floor when his driving instructor told him he was entering his final lap at Kansas Speedway.
That’s also when the specter of Chiefs coach Andy Reid popped into Colquitt’s mind.
“I didn’t think I would, but I know that in my last lap, when (the instructor) said that, I thought, ‘I’m going to speed up and try to punch it a little more,’” Colquitt said. “And I actually, for some reason in the back of my head, I saw Coach Reid’s face.”
Reid was shaking his head, so Colquitt said he decided to “chill out here” with a laugh.
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Before taking the track for eight laps, Colquitt — who was one of a handful of celebrities and media personalities invited to brave the 1.5-mile tri-oval in Kansas City, Kan. — admitted to a few butterflies.
“I’ve got a wife and five kids at home, so I can’t do anything too crazy,” he said.
It didn’t take long for Colquitt to settle in after folding himself into the window of a NASCAR-style stock car equipped with a 650-horsepower engine.
“It was a sweet experience,” said Colquitt, who topped out at 129.55 mph. “… I felt like I was going 200 miles per hour just because of the way the track’s set up and how the cones and the gates and stuff kind of fly by you. The concrete wall is so close quarters.”
Colquitt said the experience felt similar to gearing up for an NFL playoff game with one critical caveat.
“With football, I have a lot of confidence, a lot of preparation and practice, muscle memory, and all these things,” Colquitt said. “With racing, they’re asking, ‘Hey trust me, this is what you do and how the car’s going to react to you.’ You’re basically putting a lot of trust in that well-built car.”
For racing at Kansas Speedway, the car is set up with larger right-side tires, which helps handle the steep banking in the corners, but it also requires a different hand placement and more tilt on the steering wheel when blazing down the straightaways.
“There were a couple times I was definitely outside of my comfort zone,” Colquitt said. “Anytime you’re doing something new like that and at that high speed with concrete that close kind of flying by, it takes you time to adjust, like, ‘This is for real.’ But I had a lot of fun.”
Colquitt admitted that in college at Tennessee he’d driven a friend’s car 124 mph, but that experience paled in comparison to Friday’s behind the wheel of a more powerful machine built strictly for speed.
“This was definitely the fastest I’ve ever driven in my life and definitely the sweetest car, so I had a great time,” Colquitt said. “Back in Knoxville, that was a straightaway — no turns, pitch black at night. This was a lot of turns and trying to hit gates and landmarks.”
It was an unusual putting his faith completely in instructor Jeff Miles’ advice, which was relayed through a radio in the helmet.
“You’re trying to follow precise instructions about when to hit the gas and when to let off,” Colquitt said. “It was cool, but it was one of those things, if you don’t have an instructor in the car, I’d be doomed. It’s like a coach-player relationship, so it was nice having him in the car.”
The only downside was that Colquitt owes radio host Brad Fanning of KCSP (610 AM) a 12-pack of Boulevard’s Tank 7 after the new co-host of “The Drive” posted a faster top speed.
“I didn’t hit the wall, so I’m in good shape in that,” Colquitt said. “I’ll probably get invited back, but now I want to go faster.’ Now, you’ve got to push it. I lost a 12-pack of beer, but next year I’m going to have the same bet and I’ll win it back.”