EntertainmentCars

Furious but not fast at Mondello Park

CarsBy Morgan Flanagan Creagh
Our man on the tack at Mondello Park
Our man on the tack at Mondello Park

The sounds of tortured tyres rang in my ears as I approached the watersoaked rear paddock at Mondello Park racetrack.

As I arrived the sandwich devouring motoring press were gleefully bestowing praise on the vehicular delight that is the Mazda Mx-5.

The skidpan would be our battlefield and the Mx-5 our chariot as the furiously un-fast celebrated the latest instalment of the world’s most prolific car film franchise, by battling it out on the track.

I was 14-years-old when Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto told officer Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) that he lived his life a quarter mile at a time.

I was shell-shocked leaving that film and went home to cover my bedroom walls with pictures of the custom painted Japanese sports coupes that roared down the drag strip in under ten seconds.

In 2000 the film, which was inspired by a Vibe magazine article on street-racing in East L.A, began production with a modest budget and a cast of up and coming young actors.

The nitrous fuelled Fast and The Furious turned out to be the sleeper hit of 2001, clocking up $207 million at the worldwide box office.

Over the course of six films the franchise has gone on to make an astounding $2.4 billion, thanks mainly to diehard fans like myself, who spent a fortune on box sets, merchandise, cinema tickets and Japanese sports cars.

Having grown up on the high octane antics of Brian O’Connor the tragic death of Paul Walker in November 2013 came as quite a blow.

Fast and Furious 7 will be Paul Walker’s cinematic swan song; how he exits the franchise is yet to be revealed, but it is guaranteed to be emotional, especially for the diehard fans.

The movies sped from East L.A to Tokyo, from Mexico and the Dominican Republic to Brazil, the Canary Islands and The UK, but never have they reached the dizzying heights of Mondello Race track in Kildare. 

As I stood, peering out the press room window, devouring coffee and judging those already on the track I began pensively preparing myself for the task ahead.

First there would be a slalom, followed by a clockwise 90 degree handbrake turn which would switch into an anticlockwise bend and a second handbreaker, before a smoking doughnut and a sprint towards a box in which I must come to a complete stop.  

Quite like autotest racing, for those of you who know what that is.

I was filled with confidence in my abilities, bred from years of late night bad behaviour in supermarket car parks; I assuredly marched to my car, while internally preparing for my post lap interview with Clarkson.

Mondello’s answer to Dominic Toretto, Ken Elliott, initially drove me through the course, before plonking me behind the wheel to realise my destiny.

Less is sometimes more in motorsport and long, poorly controlled power slides are not what you want while driving an autotest course.

Throttle aggression and an inability to listen to basic commands turned out to be my Achilles heel, as I relentlessly tortured tyres, and Ken, during my practise runs.

After coming worryingly close to a ditch and forcing my passenger to hit the kill switch, I was sent off for my final, timed run.

It’s at this point a lesser journalist would lie and regale the world of his blistering speed; but not me, I’m a man of principals, honesty and slow lap times.

My timed lap was a mess of unnecessary sideways screeching which led to a disappointing time of 33.69 seconds and a non-podium 7th place finish behind some old men and girls.

I was not fast and a little furious leaving the track as I pondered how the film’s stunt drivers make it look so damn easy.

The stunt driving event was organised by Universal Pictures Ireland to celebrate the release of Fast & Furious 7, in Irish cinemas from April 3rd 

The #Furious7 event was designed to provide an insight into what it’s like to drive like the film’s leading characters, Dominic Toretto and Brian O’Conner