To officially open SYLVANIA 300 Race Week, New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan put her foot in the throttle and recorded an impressive 100-plus mph trip behind the wheel of a NASCAR racecar at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Friday, setting a new track record for Governors or any other state politician here at NHMS.

With the SYLVANIA 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase race only a week away, and campers arriving today, Hassan was smooth and fast around the 1.058-mile oval - so awesome that speedway executive vice president and general manager Jerry Gappens invited her back to qualify next Friday.

"She was feeling her need for speed and I think we're going to have to rename her 'The Governator,' " said Gappens. "She did a great job out there and I think she should come back next week, qualify, make the field of 43, and take the prize money to help the revenue side of the budget here in the state of New Hampshire. Actually, I think she is entertaining the idea of using her driving skills to help raise some money for charity in the future. This could be the start of a great driving career!"

After riding shotgun during a burnout session with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Clint Bowyer last September, the N.H. Governor incumbent climbed into the driver's seat of a 600 horsepower stock car on Friday during the Richard Petty Driving Experience. She took a short instructional/safety course before climbing into the cockpit and into the driver's seat.

"That was really fun," said Hassan, who completed eight laps around and had a top speed of 101 mph. "You're going as fast as you can on the straightaway and it's a lot of fun going through the turns. The coaching is great, so you have a sense that someone is there to talk you through it, but to have a sense of what these drivers do is just terrific."

Hassan impressed the instructors at RPDE, hitting a top speed of 68 mph on her first lap before getting increasingly faster over the next seven laps. Garrett Smithly, her 22-year-old driving instructor, noted her quick learning curve and increasing confidence with each lap and corner.

"She did great," he said. "You could tell she was a little nervous at first, but once we got two or three laps in she was getting faster and faster. That last lap was just perfect."

The RPDE provides an authentic, safe, and exciting motorsports entertainment experience to anyone who wants to get behind the wheel and feel the thrill of racing. The RPDE will be at New Hampshire Motor Speedway through Sunday and is open for walk-ups and appointments.

The RPDE could see an influx of fan interaction this weekend, as gates officially open to campers on Saturday morning at 6:00 a.m. A steady stream of fans is expected throughout the week, with festivities officially kicking off for the 18th annual SYLVANIA 300 NASCAR race weekend on Thursday, Sept. 18 at FanFest. Sprint Cup Series and Whelen Modified Tour qualifying is scheduled for Friday; three races - including the F.W. Webb 100 (NWMT), UNOH 175 (NCWTS), and Bond Auto Parts ACT Invitational - will drop the green flag on Saturday; and Sunday will feature the SYLVANIA 300 (NSCS), the second race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship Challenger Round.

"It's so important for our state, it's so much fun, and I encourage people to come out, to participate and see everything that NASCAR has to offer," said Hassan. "This is officially race week in New Hampshire and the championship has to come through here. I can't wait to see the best fans in NASCAR."

Details and information on how to purchase tickets to the SYLVANIA 300 NASCAR weekend are available at our Ticket Office, speedway website at, or Ticket Hotline at (603) 783-4931.