On the 27th of October, amateur Drag Racing Team Orange Pop dropped by the plaza of Warwick University, as organised with Warwick Racing, displaying their cars and offering the chance to openly get to know a top race team. Alongside a demonstration of their impressively loud engine, they hosted the second of Warwick Racing’s Speaker Series events to an audience of over 65 engineers.
Orange Pop have been consistently competing in British drag racing since 2005, and plan to continue doing so for many more years to come. Their racecar, which shares its name with the team, maxes out at around 120mph, achieving a distance of a quarter of a mile in just 12 seconds.
The current team, headed by Simon Barlow are currently working on developing an engine for their new car ‘The Boss’. They aim to use this new engine to break both British and American drag racing records, which currently stand at a quarter of a mile in 7.4 and 6.98 seconds respectively. Simon expects to achieve this by 2017.
As ambitious as the team are, however, this is primarily a project of passion for the owner, with Simon’s main trade lying in construction, having worked on projects such as Heathrow Airport. Hobby it may be, the team are serious; they dedicate much time and effort into Orange Pop, and plan to participate in their first overseas race in the coming years.
Harking back to the roots of the team, Simon informed me that his passion began somewhat accidently in the US when he took to the wheel of his brother’s drag car, after his sibling admitted a fear of operating the vehicle. When Simon returned to the UK, he sought to set up his own drag racing venture this side of the pond. He purchased what would be his first race car, an Orange Ford Popular, which set him back around £60,000. Later on, as noted, the owner turned his attention to building a newer, faster car, and thus ‘The Boss’ was born, a tonne lighter than its Orange predecessor.
Speaking of the challenges that the team routinely face, we were enlightened to the fact that the more parts added to a, the higher the risk of failure. This has unfortunately proven true for Orange Pop in the past, the most frightening occasion being an incident whereby the car’s parachute accidently deployed ahead of time dragging the car off the track and nearly causing it to tumble.
When we asked what it’s like being in a car going 170mph with around 4g, Simon responded: “It’s like being kicked in the chest; you’re strapped in tight but everything feels so loose.” Yet, despite such danger and risk, it’s evident that everyone on the team cherishes their work.
Besides sharing history and anecdotes with us, Orange Pop also had some useful advice to impart on Warwick Racing. Firstly, everyone in a team has their part to play and dedication drives success. Second, for a team to succeed everyone needs to share one central goal, and maintain the same levels of motivation. For, the most successful teams are all on the same wavelength; Orange Pop consider each other as family. Finally, the practical advice we were given? Hand lifting cars will bust your back, so why not be wise? Use a jack.
Written by Clara Nicholson, Victor Osifeso, Anastasiia Zhigunova, Shaam Vora.