Kansas Speedway, Kansas City, Kan.
“Hi. Welcome to my office,” Mike Busby bellowed over the sound of the 600-horsepower engine as I climbed feet-first into a blue and green No. 66 NASCAR race car at Kansas Speedway on a hot August day. As I was buckled in, I was told: “Don’t cry. Don’t puke. Smile – you’re being videotaped.”
That made me smile and, except for the unexpected bump when we came off pit road onto the track at a 17- to 20-degree bank, I wore that smile for all three 168-mph laps around the 1.5-mile oval track. Later, when I saw video and photos from my Richard Petty Driving Experience ride-along, it was clear this was an adrenaline-fueled smile, a what-the-heck-did-I-sign-up-for smile. Don’t get me wrong; I’d do it again. Next time, instead of riding shotgun, I want to be behind the wheel. The track is typically open weekends May through October. A ride-along on a nonrace weekend is $109; an eight-lap driving experience is $449. http://www.drivepetty.com
If driving fast doesn’t get your blood pumping, we’ve got eight more adrenaline-inducing options for you to try.
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Extreme Underground, Atchison
The location alone might get a few people’s hearts beating fast: a former underground Army bunker. If that doesn’t do it, take a turn in the speleobox, a wooden maze that simulates crawling through low caves. There’s also slacklining, where participants walk, bounce or do gymnastics while on 2-inch-wide, nylon webbing stretched between two objects, like a tight rope. If team extreme is more your style, play a game of laser tag or archery tag using foam-tipped arrows. Prices range from $3 for single-game passes to $20 for unlimited play wristbands, and hours are 4 p.m. to midnight Fridays and 10 a.m. to midnight Saturdays. www.extreme-underground.com
Gander Mountain Academy, Wichita
The virtual range at Gander Mountain Academy in downtown Wichita lets you hold a Glock pistol while feeling and hearing the sound and trajectory of real bullets using carbon dioxide cartridges. There is a target range that tests your handgun grip, stance, use of sights and trigger control as well as 180- and 300-degree ranges that test your speed and judgment. It features a 2 million-pixel screen and multiple targets of your choice, which have simulated distances ranging from 3 to 50 yards. Cost to use the virtual range is $15 for nonmembers; memberships are available that offer discounts on range use as well as classes. Call ahead to check availability and age restrictions. https://gandermtnacademy.gandermountain.com/locations/wichita-ks
Gypsy Moths Skydiving, Benton
There might be no greater rush than free falling at more than 115 mph from a Cessna C182 at 10,000 feet above the Kansas prairie. The gentle glide once the parachute opens can be quite the opposite: peaceful and spectacular, especially at dusk. Just nine miles northeast of Wichita at Lloyd Stearman Field in Benton, Monty LaMar operates Gypsy Moths Skydiving, from newbie tandem skydives to more experienced skydivers. A basic tandem costs $230; if you want photos and video to record your bucket list accomplishment, it’s $300. www.skydivegypsymoths.com
Original Juan’s, Kansas City, Kan.
A manufacturing and bottling facility on a list of adrenaline hot spots? Two words: The Source. If you have to sign a waiver to try a product, that’s enough to raise your blood pressure. The Source is a hot sauce extract that registers 7.1 million Scoville units. Translated: It’s one of the hottest sauces in the world. A tiny drop on the end of a toothpick touched to your tongue will have lasting effects for hours, including a racing heart. If you want to go a little tamer, ask to try other hot sauces and grab some bargains in the outlet shop. www.originaljuan.com
Red Dirt Flyboard, Mannford, Okla.
A flyboard is an accessory that attaches to the water output system of personal water craft, like a SeaDoo. Water is sent through a hose that is connected underneath the flyboard, shooting down and propelling fliers into the air so they can soar above the water or swim like a dolphin. First-time fliers are required to take a safety course, and then fliers enter the water and begin flying at approximately 5 feet above the surface. Red Dirt Flyboard opened last summer to bring flyboard training for beginners and enthusiast adrenaline junkies to Keystone Lake, about 15 minutes west of Tulsa. Individual flights are $99 for 20 minutes of water time, $139 for 30 minutes. Memorial Day begins their season, and they offer flyboarding most weekends. www.reddirtflyboard.com
Riversport Adventures, Oklahoma City
Riversport Adventures is a mash-up of climbing, jumping, dropping and boating activities that you can choose to do one at a time or in combination. Officials say the SandRidge Sky Trail is the tallest adventure course of its kind in the world: An 80-foot structure features six levels of challenges that increase in difficulty the higher you climb in your safety harness. A playground in the sky, the challenges include rope bridges, balance beams and zigzag elements. From the top you can zip on a line 700 feet across the Oklahoma River – and back again. To get down, you can choose the high-speed 72-foot Sky Slide, jump from the 80-foot Rumble Drop freefall or just walk back down the stairs to exit the structure. Pay one price and play all day ($35 plus $15 for the zipline), or select a single one-hour experience. www.boathousedistrict.org/adventures
Verruckt, Kansas City, Kan.
Any true adrenaline junkie has to make the trip to Schlitterbahn Waterpark to ride the world’s tallest water slide. Verruckt roughly translates to “insane” in German, after all. Just the 264 steps to get to the ride will get the adrenaline pumping. When you reach the top, you are higher than the Statue of Liberty. The true test, though, is sitting in the three-person raft staring at the straight drop of 168 feet 7 inches – that’s a free fall of 17 stories in four seconds, traveling about 50 mph at a 60-degree angle. But wait, there’s more. Blaster jets propel riders up a 55-foot hill that is considered the world’s largest uphill water slide before plummeting five stories to end the ride. Schlitterbahn is open May 22 through Sept. 7. A day pass for children/seniors is $29.99 if purchased online; ages 12-54 cost $39.99 online. www.schlitterbahn.com/kansas-city
Wichita Sports Center, Wichita
Strap on a bubble soccer suit – called a body zorbing ball – and you’ll be ready to bump, roll and flip over while trying to score a goal. In addition to soccer games, players can opt for freestyle time – just bouncing off other players and knocking each other down. There are adult and children’s suits, and they go on like backpacks, with the top open so you can breathe and the bottom open so your feet touch the ground. Check the calendar for open and league play; cost is $15 per hour per person at the center, 3001 S. Madison. Wichita Sports Center will be part of River Fest this year, where you can watch or choose to participate for a 30-minute session. www.wichitasportscenter.com