Mark Zuckerberg didn’t just see where Hendrick Motorsports builds the engines for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s race car, he also got to experience the fruit of the team’s labor firsthand.
The Facebook co-founder and CEO visited Charlotte Motor Speedway on Tuesday to take part in the NASCAR Racing Experience, according to NASCAR. Rather than having any old performance driving instructor show him around the 1 1/2 mile oval in a show car, though, Zuckerberg rode shotgun with Dale Jr. in his No. 88 Chevrolet.
With Earnhardt at the wheel, the two hit speeds over 175 mph and drove within inches of the wall.
“I wanted him to get a sense of the speed and the grip and the g-forces,” Earnhardt said, via NASCAR. ” … I’m sure it was exhilarating. I couldn’t imagine getting into a car with a race car driver having never driven before myself.”
After Earnhardt showed him the ropes, Zuckerberg then went out for a solo run, with the No. 88 driver coaching him over the radio.
Zuckerberg was visiting North Carolina as part of his 2017 personal challenge, which is to meet people in every U.S. state to learn about the various types of communities in this country.
“NASCAR and driving and sports in general form the basis of a lot of communities,” Zuckerberg said, via Facebook Live. “You think about not only the community of drivers and the families around them, but NASCAR’s probably, I think, the biggest sport in the country that people go to and attend live.”
Prior to taking a spin alongside one of NASCAR’s more popular drivers, Zuckerberg was given a tour of the shop that prepares Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson’s race cars.
“Super nice guy, shockingly normal,” Johnson’s crew chief Chad Knaus told NASCAR.com. “Very inquisitive. He was definitely curious about what it is that we do and he had a ton of questions. They were actually very good questions. I was happy to hear that.”
As if getting to watch Earnhardt at work wasn’t enough of a treat, Hendrick also sent Zuckerberg home with an autographed helmet and a personalized uniform.