Idris Elba: King of Speed (2013-…): Season 1, Episode 2 - Episode #1.2 - full transcript

Idris Elba investigates how our motor sports are not just about speed.

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- When I was six years old,

I used to sit in the
back of my dad's Cortina

with a hanger and drive,

pretending that hanger
to be a steering wheel.

By the time I was 14,

I realized that I had
an obsession with speed.

I bought myself a
car and that was it.

Haven't looked back.

Now, I'm going to race and
rally across the world,

meet legends.

You always liked speed.



- Couldn't ever
get enough of it.

Professional drivers.

- It is like a drug and
you want to do more.

- People obsessed with speed.

Like me.

- Now, I don't know what
your title is over there.

- King of Speed,
bruv, King of Speed.

- Ooh!

Where's
the ejector button?

- I've wanted to eject
out of these things

every now and then.

So far,
I've seen how the US

has irrevocably shaped
the cars we drive.

I put my finger on the moment



that cars went from things
that got us from A to B

to machines of speed and beauty.

And I've seen the
darker side of racing.

The underground scene,

the drag racing,
the kids love it.

How those
who broke the law

created America's most
popular motorsports.

Coming up.

- John Cooper put a little
formula junior engine in it

and that was the Mini Cooper.

- Bang the clutch.

I'm exploring
the mysterious world

of underground street racing.

- Cannonball was started
to say, "Speed limits?

"We don't need no
stinking speed limits."

It was a protest against the 55.

I'm going to
see how we race road cars

all over the world.

- Word?

From East London to Japan.

What?

- Nice!

And I'll
try to understand

why we're willing to break
the law to drive fast.

Do you like speed?

- I'm trying to avoid it
because I've got 11 points

at the moment, so...

- 11 points?

Mum, I'm okay, all right?

Don't worry about this.

I'm in London and it's
back to the day job.

The premiere for a
film I made called

Long Walk to Freedom.

It's a welcome break from
crammed cars and racetracks.

I'm back on a mission.

Well, sort of.

I'm about to have a go
in the ultimate motor.

Built to order from
a chateau in France,

the Bugatti Veyron
became the world's

fastest production car in 2006.

Rumor has it, there are
less than a dozen in the UK,

and Afzal Kahn owns this one.

So what's interesting
about it is that

it's really eye-catching,

literally everybody's
looking at it.

- Yeah, it's a
statement, isn't it?

A Bugatti stands on its own
and it's totally a unique car.

So, I mean, if
you've got a Ferrari

or you've got a Lamborghini,

you see plenty of
Ferraris and Lamborghinis,

but you don't see these things.

- No, so, I mean, you
don't strike me as a poser.

I love cars.

And if you love cars,

you've got to have one
of these in your life.

- Yeah, yeah.
- Got to have.

But I do my fair share
of posing though.

Doing bespoke work
on cars was a hobby

which turned into a business.

So back in the early days,

I started off working
on Ford Capris

and Ford Mark 5 Cortinas.
- Really?

- And Mark 2 Escorts and
putting forest arches on them

and putting fancy
wheels on them.

Do you remember Ghia?

- Yeah, of course I do.
- So you're like

a bespoke Ghia.

- Yeah, I'm a bit like
a Ghia or Pininfarina.

My sort of passion in life

is to go follow the sort
of routes of Pininfarina.

We're actually more
of a design house

than what you call
a customize house.

- Right.

Did you ever
redesign any Datsuns?

- I started my life
off in a Datsun.

That was my stepping
stone for my business.

- A Datsun?
- I sold it for 600 pounds,

and I opened my first
business with 600 pounds.

And that was the Datsun
that helped me get there.

- Kahn, how much
is this car worth?

- Well, they cost brand new

just over 1.2, 1.3
million pounds, so...

- Wow.

- This, you couldn't
put a value on,

because it's got my
registration number on it,

so if you looked at
the whole package,

it'd probably be most
expensive Bugatti in the world.

- Really?
- Yeah.

Do you know how
many miles per gallon it does?

I think, I believe
it's about six miles to gallon.

- With its F1 number
plate attached,

it would probably set you back
a cool seven million quid.

Its V16, quad turbo,
eight-liter engine

puts out over a thousand
brake horsepower,

meaning that driving it,

even at 20 miles an hour,
is quite an experience.

Can you sort of define

what is it about fast cars
that you personally like?

I mean, can you pinpoint it?

- I think it's
more towards design

and the way it's been engineered

and how it's been made and
how it's been put together.

Well, the top speed on
this is 253 miles an hour.

- What?

- Yeah.

And you've probably noticed,
there's no exhaust sound.

- Yeah, sounds more
like an aeroplane.

- It's an airplane.

It's the sound of a jet.

Do you like speed?

- Yeah, I'm not, I
mean, I do like speed.

I'm trying to avoid it
because I've got 11 points

at the moment, so...

- 11 points?

- Yeah, for speeding, yeah.

- What, no wonder.
- Mm, not good.

- And as beautiful and
as fast as this car is,

Veyrons are too precious
to have real fun with.

Down the road in East London,

I've come to watch some
local lads drive sideways.

What they're doing is drifting.

Oh, man, I tell you, man,

I could do that with my
matchbox cars when I was a kid,

but I can't do it like
that, you know what I mean?

I've been driving since I
was 14 years old, you know?

Not many people have,
you know what I mean?

Now, I'm talking about
mid-'80s when I was a kid,

and I jump into a car, I
hardly know how to move it,

but at some point, all the
experience of sitting there

in the backseat watching my
mum and dad, or my dad drive,

became my knowledge of driving,

and it started into this
fascination with speed.

This lot have been given
permission to use this land.

In other parts of the country,

drifters use any bit
of road they can find,

and not always legally.

Driving illegally has
created motorsports

all around the world,
you know what I mean?

You know, I think it's part
of this massive connection

between man and motorcar.

We made the motorcar,
we invented the wheel,

but here we are now
figuring out new ways

to take that to a new
level, to a thrill ride.

You know, until we make a car
that as fast as a jet plane,

and the jet plane is
as fast as a rocket,

how could we ever satisfy

what our fascination
with speed is, you know?

I think it's just that
continuous exploration, you know?

But, you know, I'm 41 now,

and I'm still, still,
wanna get into more cars,

still haven't driven
enough, you know?

Learning how to do this
might help with my cornering.

Drifting is one of Europe's
fastest growing motorsports.

It was actually developed on
the winding roads of Japan.

The idea is that you get the
car into a sideways drift

and you are marked on
control, technique, and style,

a bit like ice skating.

In top competitions, drivers
can win up to $25,000

for a perfectly executed drift
at a hundred miles per hour.

In the last decade, drifting
has exploded in the UK,

and a former British
champion is Steve Biagioni.

- When I started five
or six years ago,

the understanding of
drifting wasn't that big,

so when you tried
to talk to a track

to explain what
you wanted to do,

they didn't really grasp it.

So they kind of
didn't understand it,

so you had to start
on the street.

I started driving on
the streets of Essex,

round roundabouts, but kids...

- What, drifting
round roundabouts?

- Of course, yeah.

Kids still do it.

I mean, where I
live, fortunately,

I live on a crossroads
of three police forces,

so it's like cat and mouse.

So the kids will go out
and they'll be one minute

in the Essex police
force on a roundabout,

sort of tearing that up,

and then they'll see the police

and they'll move
to the Met area,

so then the Met
will be on to them.

- I mean, if you get
pinched by the police,

what do they pinch you
for, illegal driving?

- Yeah, of course, dangerous
driving, reckless driving,

driving without due
care and attention.

It's really something
you don't wanna do

if you're looking to
get into this sport.

- Do they even recognize
it as drifting?

- Yeah, they've figured
it out now, yeah.

- "Officer, I was drifting, man!

"It's a legal sport!"

- You admit that to a policeman,

you're in trouble right there.

Yeah, it's not good.

- So, go in at second, yeah?

- Yeah, I'd try
going in at second,

and then, basically, kind of
throw it and kick the clutch

and keep the power
in and try and turn.

In all seriousness,

I wouldn't recommend
anyone drifting anywhere

other than a racetrack.

- See, it's just on
that point of where,

you see those tires
are starting to screech

and you feel the
car starting to go,

it's that next point of
where the car breaks traction

and starts to slide.

- Right.

Learning how to drift

is a great way to improve
my cornering skills,

but it's not easy.

- Don't lift.

Don't lift.

Bang the clutch.

That's it. It's coming.

Turn!

Hey!

Right, this is good.

This is good 'cause we
now are getting the car

to break traction.

All we've got to do is
kind of move you over

to the middle of the track

and control it as it comes
around a little bit more.

- Okay.
- But other than that,

this is progress.
- I'm getting it.

- This is progress.

That's it. Go in.

Power in.

That was good.

And again. That's it.

So I want you to
show me some more, brother.

- No worries, I'll give it
a go, see what we can do.

I'm
starting to realize

why many describe
this as an art form.

And like all the
great disciplines,

this one has a grandmaster.

This is Keiichi Tsuchiya.

It was in the '70s
that Keiichi pioneered

a unique way of
pushing the limits

of a Japanese hatchback,
and drifting was born.

- Did you know that
drifting was a sport

or was it just for fun?

- Whoa!

It's a really amazing skill

what they can do
there, you know?

At one point, I thought those
two cars are gonna collide

and we're gonna hit a pole

and the airbags are gonna
smash me in the face.

Something that started off
in the mountains of Japan,

on those wicked slopes,
influencing kids in Essex,

those two sort of
worlds coming together

and making a sport out of it.

Nice!

- What?

- Nice!

- It's amazing how the urban
landscape has created drifting.

But the Japanese weren't the
first to develop a motorsport

based on their surroundings.

Back in the '60s,

a group of bikers assembled
here at the Ace Cafe

where they planned
a deadly bike race

around the center of London
that would become a phenomenon.

I'm here to meet Paul Dunstall,

who was a key member
of the movement.

- There were no speed limits.

Only in town was
there a speed limit.

The cafes were just
incidental, really.

Was just somewhere to...
- Okay, just a meeting point.

- We'd nip into Johnson's
Cafe, pass out a cup of tea,

but not for long,
and we'd be outside

on the out ramp onto the road,

sitting there on our bikes,
ticking over, ready to go,

looking for a
motorcycle to go by

that looks like he might be...

- He might be up for it.
- Up for a race.

- It's boy racing,
really, wasn't it?

Yeah.

- It strikes me
that the cafe races

wanted to experience the
thrill of speed at all costs.

The aim was to hit a
hundred miles per hour

on the streets of London.

It was known as the Ton Up,

and those riders that
managed it were legendary.

- Not many bikes would
do that in those days.

I've got a bike that did a
ton, that was quite something.

I mean, that quickly moved
on in, well, certainly now,

so 120 became the, then
125 you needed to do.

So I modify a bit of a
time, try this, try that,

within about of a year,

I mean, I'd got probably
if not the quickest,

one of the quickest bikes

for cafe racing in the
south of the country.

And other motorcyclists
sort of got to hear about it

and wanted to buy them.

And it just went, grew
and grew and grew.

- You've had celebrities,

I think Steve McQueen
liked one of your bikes.

Didn't he buy one?

- He did, yeah.

He bought, it would be
a 750 Dunstall Norton.

- Right.

So...

- So it looked ordinary,

but it was fast.
- It went really quick, yeah.

So Steve ordered one,
and I think at the time,

we had about three or
four-month waiting list,

so he used to phone
about once a week.

- But he was a
Hollywood A-lister,

surely he jumped up the list.

No.

No, he was just, no.

- This is beautiful, though.
- It is beautiful,

really, really beautiful.

Lovely junk.

- It's fast.
- Oh, yes, it will be

very fast off the mark.

Very, yeah.

When you
see a bike like this,

do you miss it a little bit?

- I do, that's a lovely bike.

Yeah, that's really nice.

I mean, even if
not to ride often,

but have it in the front
entranceway on your porch at home.

- In the '60s, bikes were
cool and easy to afford.

Hence, the closet thing
we had to street racing

were these guys.

Across the Atlantic in the USA,

it is a very different story.

Over here, street
racing means muscle cars

with powerful engines.

You all right, man?
Nice to meet you.

What's happening? Idris, man.

In Detroit, I met some
underground racers.

- We King of Street now.

Now, I don't know what
your title is over here.

- King of Speed,
bruv, King of Speed.

- Oh, King of the Speed?
- Yeah.

- Ooh.
- Speed versus street,

that's what I'm talking about!
- I'll tell you what,

we'll get you five cars and
you leave whenever you want.

- You gotta explain to
him, what that means.

- Five cars in front, and
you leave whenever you want,

and I'll start the car,
but I'll come get you.

- Oh, come on, man, no way.

Are you kidding me?
- Do it all the time.

I'm at Raceway
Park, New Jersey,

the home of drag racing.

I've come here to find
out how street racing

is behind the largest motorsport
organization in the world.

American street
racing is simple.

Two cars flat out over
a quarter of a mile,

the first past the post, wins.

The cars at this event were
all built for the road,

but they're anything but normal.

Some have as much as 1,000
brake horsepower under the hood.

It's no wonder that drag cars

regularly make it
into the record books.

There they go.

In the '50s,
illegal street racing

was out of control.

By the end of the decade,

it had killed dozens of
drivers and spectators.

A man called Wally Parks
created the government-backed

National Hot Rod Association
to take racing off the streets.

Here they
compete under strict rules

designed for safety
and fair play.

Automatic expulsion
faces any member

who races on the
public highways.

As a result, the
juvenile nuisance problem

has been reduced as much
as 90% in some communities.

Tonight
is a practice night

where anyone can tune
and test their cars.

These rides are worth
anything from a few thousand

to a half a million dollars.

They call this grudge racing,

personal battles between racers,

often with big
money bets attached.

Showing me around
is Justin Humphreys,

illegal street racer
turned professional.

- This is something that, I
mean, it happens everywhere.

I mean, all local drag strips

always have a test
and tune night

for people just to bring
their stuff out, so.

- I wanna race.

I've got a coach.

I wanna use my
coach to come race.

Betting on these guys
is a serious business,

so they ask the organizers

to keep their practice
times a secret.

And the man
to beat at the moment

is this guy, Jason.

- Word?
- Yeah.

What's
his fastest time?

- But he's gotta be eight
seconds, somewhere, isn't it?

- What?
- Way faster than that.

- Wow.
- Yeah.

It's
really easy to see

why racers spend their
hard-earned cash on these cars.

This your boy right here?

Well done, King.

How you feeling, you all right?

For them, it's a way of life.

They're addicted
to the competition

and the banter
that goes with it.

- Is that true, man?

Is that true?

Yeah.

- Took him out hard?

- You talking too much.

You ain't sexy enough for a
movie, man, leave it alone!

Man, you talking too much.

This mama, you're
talking too much.

He ain't sexy enough
for a movie, man!

- This fat girl right here,

that's all this girl do is talk.

You know
what I'm saying?

This is
bringing back memories

when I was hanging out as a kid,

shouting about whose
car was the fastest,

but it never really
got this serious.

- I mean, it's common stuff.
- Big, big, big bragging.

- Oh, yeah.
- Big bragging.

- Mouths are always running,
shit's always being talked.

I mean, it's always going on,
but that's why they love it.

- Yeah.
- You know?

That's what brings them out

here every night.
- Street racing, love it.

- That's right.

That's right.

Like I said, these same
guys will be here every time

there's a test and tune.

I mean, they look forward to it.

They go to work and this is
what they're waiting for.

And after
all that bragging,

it's time to see Jason sling
his car down the track.

- The worst drug in the
world is drag racing.

Once you do it, you're
hooked for life,

and it's the most competitive
motorsport in the world.

Our class, 30 cars
can show up at a race

and they'll all run within
five hundredths of a second.

- I bet you've got a speed
addiction that's worse than mine.

- Ah, it's terrible.

I wouldn't say that it's
necessarily dangerous.

I mean, this is the only track

I've ever crashed at in my life.

I hit the wall at the finish
line, 190, 200-mile an hour,

and I was out on my phone,

on my cellphone talking
to my pregnant wife

before the EMTs
even got to me, so.

I mean, yeah, all
motorsports are dangerous,

anything can happen at any time.

Unfortunately, this racetrack

has taken the lives of two
of our top fuel drivers

within the past
four or five years,

but, hey, that's the risk
you take when you go racing.

- Yeah.

According to some sources,

drag racing has killed over
400 drivers since 1950.

Even with rules and regulation,

it's still extremely dangerous.

It's no surprise
that, over the years,

we've attempted to balance the
thrill of the car's raw power

with our own safety.

In the '60s, over
30,000 people a year

were killed in road
traffic accidents.

The US Government was soon
under pressure to act.

Cars like the Chevrolet Corvair

were produced with anything
but safety in mind.

This great-looking
motor was a deathtrap

to anyone unlucky
enough to crash in it.

It wasn't long before
a protest movement

against the car emerged,

led by a campaigner
called Ralph Nader.

- If General Motors
wishes to know

why I spent an inordinate
amount of time on the Corvair,

it is because the Corvair

is an inordinately
dangerous vehicle.

- Nader wanted to
introduce safety tests

and lower the interstate
speed limits from 70 to 55.

Talk of speed restrictions

soon attracted major opposition
from car enthusiasts.

One man determined to prove
Nader wrong was Brock Yates.

Now, Yates wanted to show
that, in the right hands,

cars could be driven
at speed and safely,

so he created a protest event

that became a global phenomenon.

The Cannonball Run
wasn't just a movie,

it was an illegal street
race that really happened.

I'm meeting Brock's son,

who accompanied him
on that first race.

You're Brock, right?

Right, I'm Brock.

- Brock Junior?
- I am Brock Junior.

- And your dad started
Cannonball Run.

- He started the Cannonball Run.

He started the Cannonball

Sea-To-Shining-Sea
Memorial Trophy Dash.

What was
the Cannonball about?

I mean, what started it?

- Cannonball was
started for two reasons,

to prove that good
drivers could traverse

long distances at
high speed safely,

and the other one was an
opportunity to say, "Speed limits?

"We don't need no
stinking speed limits."

It was a protest against the 55.

Remember, the West was empty,

there was not a soul out there.

You'd leave St. Louis

and you wouldn't see anybody
else until California.

Right,
yeah, yeah, yeah.

Is this the car you drove in?
- This is the car.

This is the car, no,
I didn't drive it.

Brock ran it in '72
and '75, this is a...

- Can you call him Dad, please?

'Cause it just freaks me
out when you say Brock.

Oh, I'm sorry.

My father got this car new,

sent it down to Cotton
Owens, NASCAR builder,

and this was built specifically
for the Cannonball.

For a little extra range, there's
this small fuel cell here.

Wowser.

- And when he went to a gas
station, one pump went in there,

one pump went in there, dollar
bills flew across the floor.

I mean, this car was made
for high-speed driving.

The front end was lowered.

Car would run about
150 miles an hour.

So, what
would you take?

I mean, you've got no room
for luggage, you wanna ride...

- Oh, I mean, you've got a
bag, you've got some water.

My mother very carefully packed
fruit juices and vitamin C,

stacks of one dollar
bills, and some stuff.

- Chocolate?
- Chocolate.

- Why do you have
so much chocolate?

- Energy.

I mean, 36 hours of nonstop,

full-attention driving is
a serious endurance test.

- Yeah.

- Not only on the car,
but on the drivers.

- I can imagine.

Dude, can I drive it?

- Yeah, we can drive it.

- Come on, let's go.
- I'm ready.

Many believe
that the Cannonball Run

became one of the most glamorous

and exciting
demonstrations of the '70s.

It was named after
Cannon Ball Baker,

who set a record in 1933

for driving across
the USA in 53 hours.

Driving as fast as they
could get away with,

the Cannonballers of '71 aimed
to do it in just 36 hours.

So, you did the first one?

I did the first one.

How old were you?

14.

- 14 years old.

- I was the navigator.

There was supposed
to be more cars,

but they all dropped
out at the last minute,

and then everybody found
out how much fun we had.

So, did someone win?

- Oh, sure, Brock and Dan
Gurney in a Ferrari Daytona

won in fall of '71 in 35
hours, which was pretty quick.

- 35 hours, eh?

- Yeah.
- That's pretty good.

- Yeah, Dan Gurney was
interviewed at the finish line,

and he said, "Well, I
never went over 175."

The Cannonballers
claimed the biggest accident

they ever had involved
a spilt lasagna.

Brock's taking me to meet a
couple of veterans of the race.

What car did you drive?

- I had a Lotus Esprit S1.

- Oh, wow!

- So, it was fun.
- That was a nice car.

- That was.

We sold all our cars,

pooled our money together,
I took out a personal loan,

and the car was like
$17,000, which...

- A lot of money.
- Yeah.

- What was your
concentration fuel?

I mean, Brock, I think,
ate a lot a chocolate

and fruits and vitamin C.

What might have been yours?

- We got down to maybe
10 minutes at the wheel,

a stint, and then
get out, change over.

We had cruise control on the car

and the co-driver
could set the speed.

I'd go, okay, give
me 106 miles an hour.

I'm a little tired,
take it down to 105.

Okay, that's good.

- Most of the cars had CBs.

Did you use yours?

- Yeah.
- Yeah?

Oh, all the time.

- All the time?
- You had to apologize

to the truckers.

"We're the car coming up behind
you with the white lights.

"We're gonna blow past your
left door if you'll let us."

We're really asking
permission to go by

'cause they own the road.

- Right, okay.

- When we were crossing
the Ohio border,

there was a plain police car

sitting off to the side
with its lights off.

And he comes over on the CB
and he goes, "Blue Lotus."

And I ignore him, and
he goes, "Blue Lotus."

I ignore him again.

So finally, at the
third time, I said, yes?

He goes, "Are you number three?"

And I said, number
three in what?

And he goes, "Cannonball."

I'm going like, what's that?

- When we were going into New
Mexico, I remember thinking,

God, we're getting
away with this,

because, really, it's an
act of civil disobedience.

But we never got stopped.

We never got a speeding ticket.

- Wow.

The Cannonball protest
failed to prevent

the introduction of
the 55 speed limit.

It was the '70s oil crisis
and the need to save fuel

that finally ushered
in a new speed limit.

What's your handle?

- You've got the Silver Bullet.

Come back.

Silver Bullet,
this is Black Bird.

Find me in the '56 T-Bird.

Can I join up with you guys?

- You're always welcome, see
if you can stay with us, huh?

- So we're gonna get into
a Cannonball Run, huh?

Ow!

Hey, what is that
sexy car coming down the road?

Can I hop in that seat?

Ah, sure,
we'll give you a ride.

Well, you
know, I don't get in cars

unless I know the
gentlemen's names.

- Ah, this is Seven
Wallace and Silver Bullet,

you'll be safe.

We got
ourselves a convoy.

All right, pedal fast.

Let's go.

Do you think when
your dad started the Cannonball,

did he think it was gonna
grow as big as it did?

- When the Cannonball happened,
I mean, yes, it was a lark,

yes, it was stupid, yes,
it was all kinds of things,

but it captured the
American imagination.

I mean, there hasn't been
a Cannonball for 30 years,

but it still, that's
what people think about.

Any time that somebody's out
having fun with their car,

driving quickly,
it's the Cannonball.

- The Cannonballers
drove from coast to coast

in the first ever supercars.

It's the world of
Starsky and Hutch,

Dukes of Hazzard,
Smokey and the Bandit.

This nation helped the car

become a global star
in its own right.

I'm back in the UK again to
test drive a street legal car

that is close to my heart.

It's a national icon,
familiar to millions,

and the car I learned to
drive in at the age of 14.

We may not have the
underground heritage

of Japan and the US,

but there's one thing us
Brits cherish, the Mini.

The Mini, for me, is a sign
of my liberation, right?

I saved up some money
and I bought a car

and I drove it to
school every day,

and it was a Mini Clubman.

To buy a car at 14, one
must have facial hair, okay?

Because when you have
facial hair at 14,

people don't question your age.

I'm not proud of
my early exploits,

but, for me, it's
where it all began.

It was definitely the moment
for me where I was like,

right, I've got a little
freedom, you know?

I could drive anywhere
I wanted, you know?

It was amazing.

Before the Mini came along,

family cars were cumbersome
to say the least.

Sir Alec Issigonis's revolutionary
design changed all that.

- We've got to make a car,

a very small car,
for the housewife.

- Its small size made
it great around town

and surprisingly versatile
on a rally stage.

To everyone's surprise,

it was a Mini that won
the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally

with an Irishman at the
wheel, Paddy Hopkirk.

You were massively successful

and people knew who you
were, you know what I mean?

What was that like,
driving for your country

and sort of, you know?

- Well, I think not many people

went to Monte Carlo
in those days,

and I started from Russia, so
it got the press imagination.

And then it was a surprise

when we were against a
lot more competitive cars,

Mercedes of Germany, people
with much bigger budgets.

So we surprised ourselves
and the world by winning it

with a little district
nurse's car called the Mini.

The Mini was designed
as a cheap family car,

and then John Cooper

put a little formula
junior engine in it

and they did it as a
souped-up model, really,

the Cooper, that
was the Mini Cooper.

- What was it about
front-wheel drives

that had an advantage over
other rally cars, do you think?

- Well, front-wheel drive, in
those days, was quite unique.

Putting the engine
sideways, for a start,

got the engine right
over the driving wheels,

so everything was on the front.

What the back did didn't
really matter too much.

Its front-wheel
drive technology

was game-changing at the time.

- You ready, boss?
- Yes, boss.

- My co-driver.

Just brings it all back how
bloody uncomfortable it was.

- Paddy was probably one
of the first personalities

to come from rally driving.

Woo!

I'm learning from you.

- Don't do what I do,
just do what I say.

- Yeah, he's amazing.

This guy is 80 years old.

80 years old.

He's whipping that
car, it's amazing.

And now, I get to drive.

You should film me
trying to get in.

I loved rally driving, man.

When I was a kid, I loved it.

The Mini's been stupidly
successful as a rally car,

which is what makes this
really, really exciting.

- Right, the police are behind
us, pull inside, let's go!

We've got to go!

Push it.

No power
steering, no ABS,

and definitely no
traction control.

This is as basic as it gets.

- Stay in second
for this, probably.

Very good in there.

Whoops, whoa!

- Did you just scream?

I think I
heard you scream.

- No, no, no, no,
you didn't, no.

Keep to the left here.

Left, left, left, left.

Brake, brake.

Very good, very good!

That's much quicker than me.

I'm no Paddy
Hopkirk, but this is wicked.

- Perfect!

It's just
like bombing around

the old streets of East
London all over again.

- As they say in
Ireland, you drove well.

- Yes, all this man
in that small car.

- Please, God.

- It's good, and
Paddy was giving me

lots of good pointers there.

- I can see how difficult it
is to drive that darn thing.

And I'm looking forward
to see how he gets on

in the proper cars now.

Bet you'll enjoy it.

The Mini's design
remained unchanged for decades.

That was until this came
along, the Mini Metro.

The Metro was built in an era

when rallying got a
little out of hand.

These
days, top rally cars

pack a very powerful punch.

400 horsepower.

In an effort to boost
the spectacle of rallying,

in 1982, the top tier was
divided into two classes.

Group A for modified road cars

and Group B for prototype cars

with virtually no
restrictions on power.

New Audi Quattro
Sport takes a lot of handling.

The new class
started an arms race

for evermore powerful machines.

Four people
killed, 31 injured.

- I am not prepared to go on
as a driver, irrespective.

No way.
- I'm not going.

A spate of
driver and spectator deaths

finally forced the
governing body to act

and Group B was banned in 1987.

One of the
world's top rally drivers,

Henri Toivonen of
Finland, has been killed.

The car hit a rock
and burst into flames.

To show me
how the humble Mini

grew into a Group B monster

is someone who survived
the experience.

The winner of the
1986 Circuit of Ireland Rally.

Dai Llewellin.

How will
you celebrate tonight?

Plenty of Guinness

and a couple of these
young ladies, I think.

- Now this, is it
really called a Mini,

it's a Metro, wasn't it?
- Well, it's a Mini Metro 6R4,

we called it in rally terms.

And basically, because
it's six cylinders

and four-wheel drive.

- So, basically, Group B
was a Frankenstein car.

You could do what
you want, right?

You could just

bolt it together and race it.
- Yes.

- If you built 200 of them,

you could basically
go rallying with it.

And what
made this one so fast?

- Well, when you put 400
horsepower in a Mini,

make it as light as possible,
it's gonna go fast, isn't it?

- Yeah, yeah.
- Yeah.

Yeah.

- You like the noise?

- Love it.
- Yeah?

This is a proper Mini.

I wasn't
expecting this.

Pure acceleration.

G-forces around the corners.

This was an era where advances

like four-wheel drive
and better brakes

meant that speed took
on a whole new meaning.

Now, I can see why they
banned Group B cars.

- They were wild
days, weren't they?

Jesus Christ.

Dude.
- He was very quiet.

Wow.

Oh, God!

Oh, God!
- She's a wicked girl,

isn't she?

He's a wild boy,
this one.

Give her a bit
of throttle to get going.

That's it.

Okay, brake!

Good, power, power, power!

Hey!

- Wow.

- She will bite you.

I told you she bites.

The sheer
power of this motor

combined with the
primitive technology

makes it almost impossible
for me to control.

- Good. Brake on.

Off the clutch, off of your...

You put your foot

on the clutch?

Yeah, yeah?

Yeah? Try it again.

Now, second, off the clutch!

Turn in! Power!

Power!

Yes! Yes!

Whoa, nearly.

Nearly!

Hell, you nearly
had it that time.

You have to work
a bit, don't you?

- Yeah.

- Bit of power.

Bit of power, bit of
power, bit of power.

That's it, hey, hey!

Ha-ha, we are there, boy!

A good experience for you?

- Oh, man.
- Yeah?

Imagine doing 600 miles in that.

I know, can you
imagine?

You'd be fit, your
arms would be like...

Yeah.

- That was difficult.

That was very difficult.

- That was very good.

I have to say, yeah,

for somebody to get into
a car of that nature

and drive it that
well was pretty good.

- I don't know, man.

That's not makeup.

- That's real sweat.
- That's not makeup.

- And tears all at once.

After just one full
season of competition,

the Metro 6R4 was banned along
with the other Group B cars.

We had to wait till 2001 for
the country's favorite car,

now owned by the BMW Group,

to return to the
world of rallying.

The modern Mini is, once more,

one of the world's
most iconic rally cars,

and taking me for a ride
in this one is Louise Cook.

But you won a
championship, didn't you?

- Yeah, I was the first
female, last year,

to win an FIA Rally title,
so I'm really pleased

with that, yeah.
- That's brilliant.

Louise started at 19,

and last year, she won
the WRC Production Cup.

In a Rover
2000 is Anne Hall.

Female rally divers

have been around since the '30s.

Pat Moss
and Elizabeth Nystrom

have won first place for
cars with all-women crews.

And Louise is
leading the next generation.

- So this is your modern
world rally car now.

Obviously, there's almost 30
years between this and the 6R4.

Time for this
girl racer from Kent

to show the men what she can do.

- And then brake here, down
to about, down to third.

Finally, I get
to drive the modern Mini.

- Now brake.

That's it. Brake.

Flip it.

And now, control the slide.

That's it!

- He's got the feel and the
balance of the car straightaway,

so, yeah, it's quite
impressive, I must say.

After driving that
6R4, this feels so much easier.

Okay, so braking now.

Down to third.

Mercifully, this
track has plenty of room

for the odd mistake.

With modern gears,
brakes, and steering,

this motor is fun to drive and
easy to get the best out of.

I could drive this all day.

- Well, it's tremendous
experience, isn't it?

Driving these three
cars over that period.

You're talking about cars

of 40 years worth of
rallying, aren't you?

- Yeah, man.

For my next adventure,

I'm going to
uncover why the Fins

have more rally champions
per head than anywhere else.

I'll hang out with rally
driving legend, Ari Vatanen.

You said you wouldn't
mention that here.

- This is part of it.

This is part of it.

- But you're mentioning it
now and you said you wouldn't.

And I will achieve
a secret ambition.

I'm going to drive a
full-powered rally car.

- You have to calm
down now, you know?

To have a calm attitude,
otherwise, really, we'll go off.