The cultures of 16th century William Shakespeare and 21st century NASCAR NEXTEL Cup stock car racing came together Monday when members of the London-based Royal Shakespeare Company visited Charlotte Motor Speedway.

While at nearby Davidson College, members of the Royal Shakespeare Company, one of the best-known theatre groups in the world, wanted to experience local culture. That's why they visited Charlotte Motor Speedway where members rode around the 1.5-mile superspeedway at nearly 150 mph in Richard Petty Driving Experience stock cars.

"I don't think I've done anything quite like that since I gave birth to a child," said Kate Fleetwood, the Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, resident who plays Hermione in "The Winter's Tale." "I thought if it was anything like giving birth I would be fine, but it was much nicer. It was absolutely wonderful."

"That was fantastic," said Nigel Cooke, of London, who plays Polixenes in "The Winter's Tale." "I've never been as fast as that and the third time around the fourth turn was just the tops."

"The speed was amazing," said Ashley Rolfe, of Cambridge, United Kingdom, who plays Jamie in "Days of Significance." "The distance you are away from the other car is amazing as well-it's very close. It was fantastic."

The thespians also drove Legends Cars and Thunder Roadsters on a one-fifth-mile oval, courtesy of The Speedway Club Driving School.

About 65 actors, educators and technicians from the Royal Shakespeare Company are in residency at Davidson College through Feb. 18. They will present performances of "The Winter's Tale," "Pericles" and "Days of Significance" at the Duke Family Performance Hall in addition to hosting an extensive series of educational events.

Call (704) 894-2135 for performance dates and ticket information.

Tickets for all May races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, including the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge on Saturday night, May 19, and the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday evening, May 27, are available by visiting www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or calling the track ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS.