If the Space Shuttle sim run was the moment that started all this, another embarrassing moment a few months before paved the way.
I had set up an opportunity for a couple of friends to do the Dale Jarrett Racing Adventure at Talladega, the biggest and baddest NASCAR track of them all. I was going to do a run as well ... but the driving suit that I had worn several times before would not fit. I pulled on the zipper, sucked my gut in ... everything. It would not zip.
Looking back on my sad desperation, it hurts to bring the memories back. I went to Wal-Mart and bought Ace bandages, hoping to fashion a sort of girdle for myself. They just bunched up and didn't come close to working. Then, in a final burst of frustration at the track that morning, I jammed the zipper in place and sat down.
The seat of my suit split wide open. In nearly one motion, I jumped up, unzipped the suit and tore it off. There were tears in my eyes, livid with myself. I had done DJ's school at Talladega nearly two years before, and it was hands down THE most memorable experience of my career.
Once I got over the shock of being on the track at Talladega, my foot pressed the accelerator snugly against the floorboard and never lifted. My average lap speeds were consistently in the 163-164 mph range, and at the end of the backstretch, my top speed was just shy of 178 mph.
And here I was, too fat to do it again.