Mark Zuckerberg visits Hendrick Motorsports, rides with Dale Earnhardt Jr.

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

Mark Zuckerberg, chairman, chief executive officer, and co-founder of Facebook, likes to challenge himself each year. In 2017, that challenge includes visiting and meeting with people from every state in the U.S. by the end of the year.

As it turns out, the challenge also includes going really, really fast.

Zuckerberg visited Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) Tuesday as part of his visit to North Carolina, following a day spent with the Duke University and University of North Carolina basketball programs.

“I have this big belief with Facebook and what we’re doing to help people try to build community that we all need to be a part of something bigger than ourselves,” Zuckerberg said. “And certainly all the fans -I think you have three million fans on Facebook who follow Dale Jr. For them, NASCAR’s a huge part of their identity and a lot of people pin their hopes on you going out and winning.”

In his time with HMS, Zuckerberg visited with Chad Knaus, seven-time championship crew chief for Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 team. He toured the shop, learned about engineering and gained perspective on how a team and driver operate at maximum efficiency.

Mark Zuckerberg talks with Chad Knaus in a visit with Hendrick Motorsports. (Photo: Rusty Jarrett/NKP)

All of these experiences were great. However, the highlight of the trip was saved for last.

Zuckerberg’s NASCAR visit ended with a trip to Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he suited up in a blue driver’s suit and white helmet to participate in a ride-along with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. before actually taking control of the machine himself for a brief run.

During Earnhardt’s stint behind the wheel Zuckerberg walked the line between excited and nervous, uttering a few expletives in between analytical examinations and deep breaths as NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver drifted up and down the 1.5-mile oval’s banking.

“That was amazing,” Zuckerberg said after the experience. “I think there would probably be millions of people that would die to do what I just did.”

“I want him to get a sense of the speed, the grip and the G-forces,” Earnhardt said afterward. “If you freak them out, they don’t really take anything away from the ride, so you kinda want the sensations of what you’re feeling out there in the car to slowly sink in to the person getting the ride.

“I’m sure it was exhilarating. I couldn’t imagine getting into a car with a race car driver having never driven before myself.”

As for Mark’s time behind the wheel, Earnhardt gave the CEO the benefit of the doubt.

“He’s only had a couple laps and he had already ran the car up to the rev limiter,” Earnhardt said. “They had it governed pretty good to keep the speeds down for him, but he was definitely getting his nerve up.”

Naturally, the entire occasion was streamed on Facebook Live. The video can be seen below.

For those interested in more information of the experience, NASCAR.com’s Jessica Ruffin posted a detailed writeup after spending the day following the duo.

Mark Zuckerberg, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. make laps around Charlotte Motor Speedway

Live from Charlotte learning about NASCAR with Dale Earnhardt,…

Live from Charlotte learning about NASCAR with Dale Earnhardt Jr., and then going for a quick drive.

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday, March 14, 2017

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