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Race Night at LeMay - America's Car Museum

Race Night at Lemay - America's Car Museum in Tacoma every second Thursday of each month. Photo courtesy Facebook

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There are exciting sights - the Daytona International Raceway as competitors whiz by at 200 mph.

There are booming sounds - the noise of big engines as the race cars zoom along.

And at the finish, there's either the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.

These are the sensations, the excitement, of driving simulator race cars at LeMay - America's Car Museum (ACM). Every second Thursday of the month from 5-8 p.m., it's Race Night at ACM, located next to the Tacoma Dome.

It's a place where you can be Richard Petty, Jeff Gordon or homegrown favorite Kasey Kahne.

"It's a fun evening," said Jeff Keys, the guest service manager at ACM.

And at just $10 per person ($5 for museum members), it's an inexpensive evening of fun.

Competing racers decide whether to race on actual oval NASCAR tracks like Daytona, Darlington or Dover.

"Or we can do what's called a road course, which is a lot more challenging," Keys said.

In road races, drivers speed up and down hills, turning right and suddenly turning left. The angles of the turns always vary.

"Those courses cause a lot more guys to drive off the roads," Keys said with a chuckle. "That's part of the fun."

The CXC racing simulators provide a realistic racing experience against other drivers. Everything seems real except the wrecks. No injuries here. There's just enduring the anguish of the penalty time spent getting your car repaired in the pits.

The ACM has three race car simulators. They are available during the day when the museum is open, but the drivers then are only racing against the track and the clock; there are no other cars.

"You're not racing against other cars," Keys said. "It's still very challenging. It gives you a great idea of driving a race car and all that. But you're not racing against another driver."

On Race Night, however, you can actually look out your windshield or look in your rearview mirror and see another car racing against you.

"We link them together, so you're racing against the other two simulators," Keys said.

About 10 to 12 people usually show up for Race Night. They're divided into teams, and drivers take 10-minute shifts, racing together as a team.

"One of the things we'd like for it to grow into is a team race night," Keys said. "Where groups of friends, three or four guys, could come in and they'd want to race another three or four guys. Then they'd each get one car and they'd rotate among themselves. So team racing could be a real fun thing, too."

RACE NIGHT AT ACM, second Thursday of each month, 5-8 p.m., LeMay - America's Car Museum, 2702 E. D St., Tacoma,

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