Renault 4 Drag Racing

It's a glorious sunny day as team Renault 4 emerge from the barn.

We have a fair percentage of the surviving cars in the UK, but sadly two won't be racing. Mary (and Ermintrude the very shiny yellow Renault) had suffered a pre-race injury from a rusty nail the previous night while collecting wood for the bonfire, and had been to casualty to have the wound cleaned out. She wasn't in the mood to compete any more.

Robert (in Rosalie the red and not very shiny Renault) was just being a wuss.

That left me (with Yvette the rather untidy Renault with paint peeling off faster than I can stick it back on) and the brave Field Marshall Ian Stanbury (in the very well maintained green Renault that looks blue to some people) to compete for this years Renault 4 prize.

Photo by Sir Ian Stanbury (photographer for the BBC).

Team Renault 4

The appearance of a couple of Renault 4s on the start line really pleased the crowd.

The VW people had wondered if we were "sleepers" that had bigger engines than our looks suggested. We assured them we're running the standard 34 horses (less the effect of 20 years of engine wear).

Renault 4s on the start line

Normally two perfectly matched cars should sail up the track nose to nose, but Ian had other ideas. He'd set his camera to video the event, and decided that the video would be much more interesting if it had a car in it.

Watch the movie:
Windows WMV format (422kb)
Random AVI format (full length at 2.8Mb)
Videos by Sir Ian Stanbury (photographer for the BBC).

Half way down the drag strip

Getting serious for the next run. There's a little dip filled with a puddle of water before the start line. The experts use it to warm their tyres up for maximum grip off the start.

The rest of us can ignore it or can put the handbrake on and drop the clutch to spin the inside wheel to make a little smoke in the hope that someone has a camera handy.

Burn out

It's annoying - the standard Beetles and VW buses were running over 22 seconds, but this was later in the day and they'd all gone home. I managed to get myself matched against a modified Datsun 240Z.

The Datsun steamed off into the distance leaving me to develop my technique.

R4 vs datsun

Turns out the technique isn't to rev the car to death in every gear. Turns out it's best to change up as the power band tails off to take advantage of the emerging power band in the next gear (so long as the gear ratios aren't spaced too far apart). For me that meant revving the car to death in first, but changing from second to third reasonably early.

With this inside knowledge Yvette the Renault 4 set a new R4 drag racing record of 21.24 seconds with a terminal speed of 59.53mph which was also the fastest Slow Car Club time of the day.

Sadly I had to disqualify myself as I'd made a sneaky modification to the carburetor intake in order to suck cold air from ahead of the radiator, so the Field Marshall won the Renault 4 prize.


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