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Published: Wednesday, 12/19/2007

NASCAR Christmas: Santa in the 88 car

BY ZACH SILKA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Don't confuse Kasey Kahne with a candy cane, and you can find out what's it's like to drive at MIS, just like Jeff Gordon. Don't confuse Kasey Kahne with a candy cane, and you can find out what's it's like to drive at MIS, just like Jeff Gordon.
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If you have an avid auto racing fan in your life and you're still not sure what to get him or her for Christmas, it's not too late.

No, you can't put Junior's new Mountain Dew Amp No. 88 stock car under the tree, but you can buy a mini replica of it, along with plenty of other holiday gifts still available for last-minute shoppers to purchase, ranging in price from $29.95 on up.

Finding presents for fans of all sports can be difficult, let alone finding only auto racing-related tokens. But they are out there, from cookbooks to tickets and even to NASCAR driving lessons.

There are six shopping days left until Christmas, and it's not time to panic yet.

Combining season's greetings with ARCA late models screaming really is possible. Just make sure to keep the motor oil away from the egg nog.

Authentic racing experience, $99-$399: Ever wanted to jump behind the wheel of an actual stock car? Well, here's your chance.

TrackTime Driving Schools in Manchester, Mich., offers the opportunity to take a spin around MIS and even drive an authentic retired NASCAR around the two-mile oval.

That's right. Ask for TrackTime's Deluxe Gift Package for $399 and you'll be allowed to take a six-lap drive around the track following a 45-60 minute classroom training session and some on-track pointers with an instructor. At the end, you get a framed plaque of yourself standing next to your car.

"It's so exciting because you're actually driving the car and racing the track," TrackTime vice president Trenda Eversol said. "This isn't lead-follow. You're driving the track instead of following someone's bumper, and you are allowed to pass."

TrackTime supplies all the equipment and gear, so leave your driving helmet and flame-retardant gloves at home.

Driving packages run in graduated levels, from three laps all the way up to 24 laps on the track. Beginners first start off with a ride-along in a street car with an instructor before they are turned loose on the speedway.

TrackTime's season runs from mid-May through mid-October, so shoppers can buy a race package now and their loved one can schedule the date later.

"This is one gift you can give to an adult man and he'll feel like an 8-year-old again at Christmas he'll be so surprised," Eversol said.

Information: 1-866-237-4831 or www.tracktime.com.

NASCAR tickets, $55-110: Tickets for the June 15 Michigan 400 and the Aug. 17 3M Performance 400 at Michigan International Speedway went on sale Dec. 15.

MIS is offering race fans who have never visited the track the opportunity to take advantage of its "Half Now, Half Later" payment plan.

Fans that purchase tickets before the 50th anniversary of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17 can pay half of their order up front with the other half due on March 11. This plan is only available to new customers.

"With tickets being a popular holiday gift this year, we felt a payment plan might help our fans with the financial burden they usually incur this time of year," track president Roger Curtis said in a statement. "With fans paying half of their order up front it gives them until March to pay the other half. It's something our new customers might need."

Information: MIS ticket hotline at 1-800-354-1010 or www.MISpeedway.com.

ARCA cookbook, $29.95: A recently released cookbook from Carol Foster titled, Eating Well in the ARCAville Corral, contains recipes from ARCA members. The guide is divided into seven sections with tasty recipes from all over the United States.

All proceeds go to ARCA chaplain Bill Krick and his wife Diana's Focus Motorsports Ministries.

Information: www.cafepress.com/carolfoster.

Earnhardt Jr. 1:24 model car, $69.99: Since you can't get the real thing, get a replica of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s new No. 88 Mountain Dew Amp Car of Tomorrow Impala.

The toy car comes with everything a race fan would want except the engine and Darlington stripes.

Information: www.store.nascar.com.

Contact Zach Silka at:

zsilka@theblade.com.



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