Olympic ice dancing gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White served as grand marshals, starting engines for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Of the pair, Davis appears to be more likely to become a NASCAR driver.
"I've had long, stern lectures from my dad about slowing down my driving actually," Davis said. "He's going to be keeping his eye on me while we're here."
White recalled enjoying the feeling of speed while on the Autobahn in Munich en route to the Sochi Games, but he's not sure he's ready to follow fellow Olympic gold medalist, swimmer Tyler Clary, and experience the speed himself behind the wheel of a car.
"It's fun for us to go fast," White said. "Obviously, we're used to a little bit on the ice, but there's an aspect of it that seems dangerous unless you're used to it. As to racing, I'm not sure I'm there yet. Maybe I'll see these guys go around the track a few times and I'll be like, 'I want to do that.' But we'll have to wait and see."
When the skaters were asked to recall their worst crash, Davis said, "On the ice, one time, unfortunately Charlie broke my fall with his head so that was probably the worst we had, and we made a quick trip to the hospital for that one."
"That was kind of a rough one," White said. "It's kind of similar in figure skating as it is in NASCAR events. As I've seen, it's incredibly dangerous, but everyone is so professional and takes precautions that we're fortunate that rarely accidents happen."
The duo met NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Austin Dillon and said that they shared similar experiences in preparation and the intensity of competition. Davis referred to that intensity when explaining why he and his partner are taking a year off from competition.
"Coming off of the 2010 Olympics with a silver medal was great for our confidence and obviously a step in the right direction towards a gold medal, but then for the next four years, your expectation and really your only goal is to win a gold medal at the coming Olympics which is hard for your brain to handle, day in and day out," White said. "So having achieved that, we're looking forward to taking it easy for a little while, coming out and enjoying things like this and sort of just seeing how we feel in terms of getting back into the sport."
Following a stint on "Dancing with the Stars," won by Davis, she said that they are looking forward to doing shows with skills that they learned on the show.
"Right now we're putting some new programs together for the shows that are coming up," Davis said. "It's the first time we're choreographing and putting things together after doing 'Dancing with the Stars,' and it's been a lot of fun to incorporate some of the things we've learned, some of the new ability to move in different ways into our skating, which is a great feeling of pride."
On Sunday, they were enjoying the time away from training as they attend their first NASCAR race and enjoyed the experience.
"Just going around, getting a chance to meet everyone and an opportunity to dive into a whole new world for us has been great," White said. "We've been training so much and just so focused on our own goals that we've kind of had to miss out on a lot of opportunities like this and just experiencing new things. So this for us is just a dream come true."