Not long ago I set a World Driving Record. In a roundabout. And didn’t get dizzy.
TL:DR I set a World Record for driving around a roundabout for 3 hours, 36 minutes and 24 seconds.
If you’ve ever missed your exit from a roundabout and felt embarrassed doing a second lap, rejoice! Because no one knows it’s your second lap. And that’s the whole theory behind my new World Record.
There was no earlier record, not officially. There’s a YouTube video of a couple of dudes circling a roundabout about 10 times, giggling the whole time. But no officially established record. That would take recognition by Guinness or one of the competing companies that officiate over such matters.
Setting a record or establishing one requires that certain rules are met. Is it repeatable? Is it quantifiable? I had to design the attempt and define the category both. I needed to design it so someone else could break my own record. So it became the Longest Time Driving in a Roundabout with certain rules to narrow the range of the attempt.
The idea was simple, how long can you drive around a roundabout before someone notices and/or the police arrive? Hopefully at least 3 hours. The execution was a bit more involved. Last thing you want is for something to limit your ability to achieve a record.
So I started planning. I researched record-setting. I researched traffic law. I looked at previous records. I checked my vacation schedule.
I drove about a hundred laps of the roundabout over the next few months, noting everything I would need or need to do during the attempt.
The roundabout I chose was a dogbone-shaped one. Chosen specifically because it had multiple lanes so I wouldn’t block traffic. Also chosen because it wasn’t a perfect circle. That way I could vary my driving to keep loose and alert.
I also decided I wanted passengers, co-drivers if you will. I asked for volunteers (several Jalopnik writers were asked and politely refused. Few have cars they can manage to drive out of state anyway) Friends stepped up and would prove invaluable in keeping me focused during the attempt.
I worried about the police. I didn’t mind getting stopped but I didn’t want to jeopardize the attempt. Being forced to leave the roundabout would terminate my day and my attempt. I decided to reach out to local government thru a friend. And it worked! Getting the Mayor’s office on board was a massive relief, and solved my biggest issue.
Sidenote: Carmel, Indiana has more roundabouts than most states have total. We have a mayor that is probably known worldwide as the Roundabout King (or should be.) We’ve held international conferences about them. http://www.carmel.in.gov/index.aspx?pag…
The day of the event I had six volunteers on my crew and a number of local tv stations indicating they were on the way. We had great radio communications so my crew could deal with my needs. The NW corner of the roundabout is home to a church that nicely let us use their lot for coordinating the event and parking. We had 2 dozen donuts, hot coffee and Dramamine for those that feared their stomach wasn’t up to the task.
We planned to roll out at 9:00am but a late arriving photographer delayed us getting his equipment in the car. The start ended up at 9:10am and we were on our way.
Let’s take a moment and discuss the vehicle for this attempt. I could’ve driven anything and gotten the job done but where is the fun in that? So I decided my project car/DD would add some adventure to the day. How about a ‘87 VW Cabriolet with the top down? The perfect car for a beautiful fall day so why not?
The car had 2 action cams mounted, one looking backwards, capturing the passengers and one in the backseat facing forward. We also had a tablet recording the whole driving time via GPS using Map My Ride app. All of these things were powered with an Anker 5 port USB hub with their IQ charging tech. Can’t say enough about how well that works. Two-way radio was also on board and I was wired with the usual behind the ear/ talk in your sleeve ear/microphone setup.
OPPO and Jalopnik bump?
Things went well and soon the mayor dropped by. He parked in the middle of the roundabout (because Mayor) and delivered a Mayoral Proclamation declaring it Roundabout World Record Day. And then he jumped in the car and we drove around chitchatting about how much fun this was.
Mayor Jim Brainard and our intrepid Record Holder
And that’s how it went for the rest of the day, dropping off/picking up riders and one 3 second pitstop to grab a custard-filled donut. Which promptly oozed all over my hand. Kids, don’t eat and drive!
The car performed well. After all, we only drove 65 miles at an average speed of 19 mph. But the one unexpected thing was the constant turning left made the engine slide to the right about a 1/4” which in a VW means the shift linkage is no longer aligned. So first gear went away. Not a showstopper but annoying none the less.
We applied to Recordsetter.com as they use video to verify record attempts and respond much quicker than Guiness (12 weeks?). The whole attempt is on YouTube. The GPS route is show below. Looks like a kid scribbling with a red crayon.
If there is a moral to this story it’s to do what you dream about. Make it a reality. I thought about doing this for a year and then 6 months ago decided it was time. This isn’t achieving world peace but it’s making an attempt and succeeding. And that leads to do more of the same.
All photos submitted by Oran Sands
Oran Sands is 64 and should probably act his age. Not likely to happen however. He’s a fan of Harris Tweed, VWs and Nine Inch Nails.