Monday, May 7, 2012

Movie Monday: Monterrey MetroGnome

Welcome back to Movie Monday, in which we plumb the depths of the Internet for compelling and interesting videos from crapcan racing.

This week's video is an expertly edited1, highly entertaining short feature starring the Geo MetroGnome and its pilot Colin Drobnis. I use the word "pilot" because it's no small feat to drive around such an amazingly engineered and mind-numbingly fast contraption.

For the uninitiated, the MetroGnome is ostensibly a Geo Metro, except all the Metro-ness has been dispatched with. In its place went all kinds of lunacy at the hands of its builder, Alex Vendler, but the pièce de résistance are the Honda CBR1000 motor and sequential transmission that sit next to the driver and power the rear wheels. You can read about its engineering and build here. It's an example of one of the defining characteristics of crapcan engineering: execution. Vendler has not only considered the idea of a bike-powered Geo Metro, he's also successfully built it, raced it, and won with it.

The video is composed almost entirely of Drobnis' helmet cam footage from the ChumpCar World Series single-day race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in December 2011. The MetroGnome went on to take the win on laps at the iconic track in Monterrey.

Here's the video's basic timeline:

0:00 - 0:49  Smooth jazz plays over the titles and some helmet-cam footage of Drobnis hurtling the Metrognome through the first 4 corners of Laguna Seca. Freeze frames create a short narrative that ends on a cliffhanger.

0:50 - 1:23  This is a nice four-shot sequence of the MetroGnome coming down the famous Corkscrew and then leisurely rolling through the final three corners of the circuit. The pace is actually anything but leisurely, but the music transforms it into a soothing Sunday drive.

1:24 - 3:302  Drobnis straps in and readies himself for the day's first stint. He spruces up the normally mundane task of belting in with--through some creative editing--what amounts to a witty soliloquy. The monologue contains reflections on lap-belt-tightening intimacy, unleashed children, and driving gloves' speed-adding characteristics. Caution: This part of the video contains the word "penis." Just a warning in case you don't like that word.

3:30 - 3:34 A clever cut takes the viewer instantly from yellow flag on pit-out to green flag racing.

3:34 - 3:57  The MetroGnome slices through traffic all the way through the Andretti Hairpin. On corner exit, Drobnis slots in behind the Model T GT3 and the viewer gets the pleasure of watching the MetroGnome chase another of the fastest crapcans ever built.

3:58 - 5:21 Both cars work through the traffic and soon find themselves alone to dice at the front of the field.

5:21 - 5:23 A gently mocking freeze frame ties together the earlier narrative.

5:23 - 11:59  The rest is just good racing video between good drivers in fast cars. Until the end, but I won't ruin that. Just sit back and enjoy 12 minutes of smooth jazz, wry commentary, ear-shredding revs, and some fine racing.

Also, check out LeMons Judge Phil Greden's awesome MetroGnome silhouette photo, taken at Reno-Fernley Raceway.

1 This shouldn't come as any surprise, since Colin Drobnis is a filmmaker.

2 Of note is the Angry Hamsters' Honda Z600 parked in front of the MetroGnome throughout this part. Like the MetroGnome, this is also a supremely fast bike-powered, mid-engined subcompact. It's also extremely noisy. If you haven't yet done so, read Dave Coleman's account of driving the Hamsters' Z600 over at MotoIQ.

3 The Model T GT is yet another of the best-engineered crapcans. The skeletal bucket of rust is little more than  a 1986 Ford Mustang 5.0 drivetrain, a rollcage, a fuel cell, and a very fast driver.

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