KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - NASCAR driver Carl Edwards got a taste of real speed on Thursday at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. He met astronaut Jerry Ross and toured the Space Shuttle Atlantis.
"I'm just trying to take all this in, I mean, I'm standing next to Jerry Ross, in front of the Atlantis!" Edwards said. "Driving 200 miles per hour in a race car is one thing, but this is a whole 'nother level."
Edwards has won 25 times in NASCAR, but taking flight and going into space was his first dream. "I got my pilot's license when I was a young kid, and my dream was to be in the Air Force and to maybe possibly be a part of something like this," he said, "so to be here, near this, and to be able to speak with Mr. Ross, this is cool!"
And maybe equally cool for Ross, who has flown seven space shuttle missions, making him the record holder for most spaceflights. "This is one one-hundredth of the speed I'm going around the earth at in the space shuttle, and I can't believe these guys do this routinely with thirty other cars out there on the track, bumper-to-bumper, just incredible that they have the skill, the talent, the determination and the will to do that."
Ross said he believed there is a kinship among fighter pilots, race car drivers, and people who travel to space. "There is some part of us that's innately drawn to that type of activity," he added.
Edwards begins Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway on Friday with training for the Sprint Unlimited.