YOU really needed earplugs to watch the jet car. The sound it made as it screamed past was utterly magnificent, but so loud it was actually painful.
Yesterday I thought I’d do something completely different to get my petrolhead kicks, which is why I jumped in the back of a mate’s Saab for the long journey down the M1 to Santa Pod in Northamptonshire. The UK’s home of drag racing was having one of its ‘Run What Ya Brung’ days for Mini owners, called Mini In The Park.
The event does pretty much what it says on the tin – you pay a couple of quid, line your pride and joy up alongside someone else’s pride and joy at the start of a quarter mile dragstrip, and see who gets to the other end first.
Even though I wasn’t driving it was a joy to watch, particularly because there was definitely an unofficial element of Mini (the cheeky Brit runaround I’ve owned a couple of) versus MINI (the BMW-engineered city slicker of today). It was genuinely close stuff in some of the races – yes, the modern motor’s got more power as standard, but the older cars came with all sorts of weird and wonderful modifications to make them go even faster. When one new MINI made a blistering start, only to make a large bang and deposit several expensive-looking bits of intercooler along the run, I wasn’t sure if I was meant to laugh or cry.
A really quick run in a hotted-up Mini was somewhere between 10 and 15 seconds, but to appreciate the difference between really quick and a proper dragster you just had to see the jet car, a machine which manages to bend time because it’s so brutally fast. I simply cannot believe it did a quarter of a mile in less than FIVE seconds, but it did, doing 265mph when it crossed the line! To put it into perspective, that’s nought to the top speed of a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport in a quarter of the length of Lord Street in Southport in less than the time it’ll have taken you to read this sentence. Surreal stuff.
Even though I’ll make sure I bring some earplugs again next time, drag racing’s definitely worth the 350 mile round trip. In car nut terms it was like Christmas had come early, only there was a different sort of Santa involved.
Life On Cars took these pictures of the event: