There isn't much that gets by our forum users, and among the topics they've highlighted this week is a successful, but largely unreported, land speed record attempt that took place last weekend. To be frank, the reaction hasn't been entirely positive, either.
The record – or to be absolutely accurate, three records, for one-mile, quarter-mile and 500-metre runs with flying-start (and subject to MSA ratification) – was set by Graeme Smith on Pendine Sands. The amiable 40-year-old from Cheshire was very much in the shadow of the Bluebird team, but I reckon he deserves some praise – even if his fastest average over two runs along the beach was 'only' 70.19mph.
Now, I know 70mph doesn't sound a lot, even for a diesel Smart, and it's true that nobody has ever tried to set a UK land speed record in the class for diesel cars with engine capacity of between 750-1100cc, so his was a guaranteed sucess, but hold fire before you knock Smith's efforts. The real triumph was not the setting of the records, but having the balls to go out and do it.
The four-time Caterham champion decided to make his record attempts as a 40th birthday present to himself. Although his Smart was entirely standard, to the extent that before each run he and his girlfriend had to remove their luggage from the back, he still had to organise the runs with officialdom, and raise the funds to share some of the costs with the Bluebird team. Oh, and he had to drive the thing, reckoning he had armfuls of lock on at times as the grip on the sand changed constantly. Where others talk – or scoff – he'd got off his backside and made something special happen.
Nor is Smith the sort of bloke to crow about his successes. "No-one in over a century of British speed records has attempted records in the class, so it was a relatively easy batch of records to attack," he said. "It wasn't a difficult engineering project nor a particularly brave feat of driving, but a record is a record. I've certainly seen much faster on its speedometer on the drive down to South Wales, but for an official record the speed is a two-way average across the measured distance.
"Hopefully it'll inspire others to go out to try to break it or set records in other classes."
So there you have it. It's easy to criticise, but are any of the knockers going to put their time, money – and driving skills – where their mouths/keyboards are?