Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would be moving to a foreign country to live, let alone a country in the Middle East. Over the 2009 Christmas and New Year’s holidays, my husband Roger and I discussed what we wanted the next part of our life to be like. He thought that before retiring, he would like to do one more airport project but only if he could find something very interesting. I half-jokingly agreed that would be fine but could he try for an exotic location? As usual, Roger came through and soon we were headed to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. This blog is a recap of our "leap-of- faith" wanderings around the Middle East and beyond. We joyfully share these expat experiences.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hot Rod Memories . . . The Hottest Seat in Abu Dhabi

The dilemma of finding a meaningful gift for the one you love is perplexing. Early in our relationship I figured out that Roger really didn't need or want any “things.” So what am I going to do for him on his special days?

Got It! Experiences .  .  . exciting – new - unique life experiences.

The "Silver Surfer" races on the Yas Forlua 1 track.

I can say that after 10 years it is getting very tough to find new experiences. Roger, the builder of airports, has flown in a glider, a World War ll Texan T-6 warbird, a helicopter and a bi-plane. Roger, the car enthusiast has raced a 600 HP NASCAR race car at the Daytona International Speedway, raced his treasured silver Corvette on the Yas Formula 1 track and successfully mastered racing a Segway around Downtown Dubai.  This list could go on but I bet you get the point.

So, what do I give Roger for our tenth wedding anniversary?  

Katie & Roger Segway-ing in Downtown Dubai.

I uncover a perfect experience for this car-crazy guy I love – I put him in the hottest seat in Abu Dhabi - drag racing at the Yas Drag Racing Centre. This is the only drag racing strip outside North America sanctioned by the National Hot Rod Association and is located in the Yas Marina Circuit complex.

Since I am not going to race the second car, I invite our good friend Michael Cowan to join in the fun. Michael’s wife Gigi and daughter Sydney are recruited to be the film crew and are on hand to surprise Roger when we pull into the drag centre. 

The "Missile & the "Rocket" with their Camaros.

After a quick safety briefing, Roger and Mike enthusiastically suit up in helmets and select their cars. Michael chooses #01, a red car, and Roger takes #05, the silver one. They are about to experience the power of top-of-the-line Chevrolet Camaros fitted with a 400-horsepower 6.2-litre V8 engines. These mean machines are known for their thrilling grit on the racing strip with the ability to race from zero to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds.

Drag racing is a race between two cars accelerating in a straight line for ¼ mile on a closed race course. The race is started by an electronic starting device affectionately called the “Christmas Tree” which sits between the two racing lanes creating a calibrated countdown of lights for each driver.  It also records the reaction time of each driver to the green starting light.

The "Christmas Tree" signals the green light to start the race. 

Just like the legendary 1960s drag racing rivalry between Dan “Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “Mongoose” McEwen, Michael, "Missile" Cowan and Roger "Rocket" Foster battle it out for five races. The competition is sizzling each time the “Missile” and the “Rocket” position their front tires at the pre-stage spot seven inches behind the starting line turning on the small yellow lights at the top of their side of the Christmas Tree. With engines revving, they warily roll up to the starting line triggering their second row of small yellow lights. With both cars in starting position the

The "Missile" takes the lead. 

Christmas Tree's calibrated countdown begins as the final light turns green the boys unleash the horse power of their Camaros with screaming rubber attacking the pavement.

Wow! What a high octane adrenalin rush! The evening is a grand success.

However, the statistics tell the real tale.  The “Missile” manages to clock the fastest reaction time (.238) and the slowest (.847).  Roger claims three winning finish times to Michael's two but Michael claims the

The "Missile" is quickest off the starting line
 with a reaction time of .244 to The "Rocket's) .344.

fastest elapsed time start to finish of 14.445. As to who went the fastest? The “Rocket’s” top speed was 166.03 kph (103.166 mph) while the “Missile’s” top speed was 165.20 kph (102.651 mph). Seems like a fairly even match.

Special thanks to the outstanding film crew, Gigi and Sydney, and to Michael for creating this wonderful video of the experience. Have a look and feel the excitement of the on-track action.

Yas Island Drag Race from Mike Cowan on Vimeo.

Postscript  . . .  
Snake and Mongoose . . . Wondering who are these two guy? In the 1906s, Snake and Mongoose
lifted drag racing out of dirt back roads and changed motorsports forever. Now this historic rivalry of real life drag racing legends is a just released movie. Snake and Mongoose, the film, is described as a “vintage slice of American culture.” Check out the trailer.

Yas Drag Racing Centre . . . Seated beside the Formula 1™ track, the Centre is an excellent place for local drag racers and international talent to show off their skills. It has two grandstands with a seating capacity of 5,000 and houses its own race control, hospitality and paddock area. The Centre offers a range of events, experiences and educational products including Yas Drag Racing Academy, Pro Drag Racing Series, Open Drag Racing Night and Yas Dragster Passenger and Driving Experience.  The Drag Racing Centre can be hired for private use at any time, except on race days. Check their web site for more information



  1. What a blast! Happy Anniversary, you two!!

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