Automotive spectacle is an important part of our driving heritage. As the car entered into the mainstream, daredevils climbed into the driver’s seat and began crashing them into things. Even automakers got in on the action. The Plymouth Motor Cooperation released a film in 1935 that consisted of some of the best vehicular marketing in history. Dubbed “Trial by Torture,” the reel opens with a person being stabbed with hot pokers and progresses to stuntmanÂ Jimmie Lynch “torturing” a 1936 model to prove its mettleÂ â€” which involves driving it through burning walls and intentionally rolling it over at high speeds. It’s amazing.
Lynch toured America with a troupe of stunt drivers, known as the Death Dodgers, who repeatedly wrecked, jumped, and rolled Chrysler products to entertain crowds until the 1950s. In an era that predated seat belts, it was pretty ballsy and undeniably awesome.
These days, the public can just log onto the internet to get their fix of automotive mayhem. But the spirit of showmanship persisted, even as safety improved. At this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, the big news involved Volkswagen setting a new record for electric vehicles. However, there was a another record broken that was more fun to watch and would have made the founding fathers of automotive stunts proud.Â
With the help of aÂ Range Rover SVR, some extra-hard tires, and a tweaked differential,Â Terry Grant hoped to break his previous record and cement his reputation as the fastest man ever to run up Goodwood on two wheels.Â Grant also held the previous world record for the fastest two-wheeled mile â€” a time five seconds shy of three minutes.
After crashing during his initial (and much slower-looking) run, the stunt driver proclaimed the vehicle fit for duty and made a second attempt on Sunday afternoon â€”Â smashing his old record by over thirtyÂ seconds.
Using a ramp to get the expensive SUV onto two wheels, Grant occasionally reached highway speeds. That’s incredible considering the 1.16-mile course is exceptionally narrow and filled with turns that could easily upset the delicate balance required to keep the necessary angle.
“It really shouldnâ€™t be underestimated how difficult a two-wheeled speed run like this is; you are always fighting to keep the car balanced right on the edge, as it tries to tip either one way or the other,” Grant said. “You need to be conscious of everything, from the camber of the road to the strength of the wind. Thankfully, conditions were excellent and the Range Rover Sport SVR was the perfect precision tool for the job.”
[Images: Jaguar Land Rover]