Features

Brake failure on the Millbrook straight – evo archive

Millbrook’s two-way straight was daunting at the best of times. Throw in a bit of brake failure, and…

evo archive 264

Almost from the moment the rules were changed it seemed utterly bonkers that we thought the old way was in any sense acceptable. The mile straight at Millbrook Proving Ground is a perfectly flat, perfectly straight piece of tarmac stretching for just over a mile (I know, trade descriptions should have been all over them). Today it is only ever used in one direction, but back in 2006 you could run both ways. Just to be clear, that meant you could have two cars heading towards each other flat-out, like some latter-day jousting match with wing mirrors. You’re probably imagining that there was a sturdy barrier separating the two lanes. But, no. Keeping the cars safely apart as they hurtled towards each other with a closing speed of somewhere around 300mph was… a painted white line.

Most of the time this terrifying scenario was avoided by only needing to test one car, but when we did our Fast Club features there was a lot of figuring to be done in a day. As I say, at the time we really didn’t think too much about the danger and, as far as I recall, we didn’t wear Nomex. What’s more, I’m pretty sure we only used to wear helmets for the photos – when we were actually testing it was easier to hear the numbers being called if you weren’t wearing an Arai. And if you’re wondering why a passenger shouted the speed, it was so that the driver could keep his eyes on the amount of mile left but also didn’t irritatingly wimp out at 169.5mph. Now I think about it, I should have called the numbers in a bingo style: ‘Like the R, 130.’

> BMW M6: review, specs and buying guide

Anyway, for the 2006 Fast Club story in issue 091 I was sitting in the silly seat, running the timing gear and calling the numbers that day, and I remember two cars in particular for totally different reasons. The launch technique for the B7 RS4 has always stayed with me for its sheer brutality. John Barker found that the way to the best time was simply to dial in the full 8250rpm and then sidestep the clutch. No finesse, incredible sound, staggering traction, astonishing mechanical robustness.

The other car I remember vividly is the BMW M6. Jethro Bovingdon was the man extracting the performance from its naturally aspirated V10 and it was tricky not to vaporise the rear rubber off the line. However, it wasn’t the acceleration but rather the deceleration that really quickened the pulse. Heading down the two-way mile straight I remember Jethro hitting the brakes for a full-on, tap-the-dashboard emergency stop, only to see a bank of warning lights illuminate like a cheap fairground ride. At the worst possible moment the M6 had effectively thrown up its hands and said, ‘You’re on your own,’ while promptly locking its rear wheels as the ABS, EBD and ESP all stood idly by.

Thankfully Jethro applied an impressively swift and accurate amount of opposite lock to keep the car on our side of the protective white line and there was enough room to ease off the brakes and slow down more sedately. I think we laughed nervously as we rolled to a stop, both well aware that the result of full brake failure in the direction we were heading was to be launched up some banking, out of the proving ground and onto a railway line.

Of course, having switched the car off and back on again to reset it, we turned round and did it all again the other way.

Recommended

Blue brakes and an evo Nürburgring gathering – evo Archive
evo archive 30th November 2021
evo Archive

Blue brakes and an evo Nürburgring gathering – evo Archive

How a very evo Nürburgring gathering came to be – and why an RS4 was returned slightly worse for wear
30 Nov 2021
BMW XM Concept revealed – near-production concept previews a bold new era
BMW XM Concept – front quarter
BMW

BMW XM Concept revealed – near-production concept previews a bold new era

Purists look away. BMW M’s 50th birthday present to itself is a 739bhp SUV
30 Nov 2021
BMW M’s 50th Anniversary celebrations kick off with new badge and historic colour options
BMW info heritage
BMW

BMW M’s 50th Anniversary celebrations kick off with new badge and historic colour options

It’s a big year for BMW M, so to begin the celebrations, it’s bringing back some iconic heritage cues
25 Nov 2021
The Three Peaks Challenge and a Corvette Z06 – evo Archive
evo Archive 274
evo Archive

The Three Peaks Challenge and a Corvette Z06 – evo Archive

When evo and a Le Mans winner tackled another type of 24 Hours
16 Nov 2021

Most Popular

M-Sport’s Fiat Panda is a 300bhp rally car
M-Sport Fiat Panda rally
Fiat Panda

M-Sport’s Fiat Panda is a 300bhp rally car

This Fiat Panda 4x4 has been transformed into an all-out rally car by motorsport firm M-Sport
7 Dec 2021
Next generation Audi A4 Avant prototype spied – basis of the last RS4?
Audi A4 Avant prototype – front quarter
Audi

Next generation Audi A4 Avant prototype spied – basis of the last RS4?

Audi’s new key legacy model is on its way
7 Dec 2021
'I always feel a fizz excitement at putting a car key in my pocket, walking outside and driving away'
Dickie Meaden opinion
Opinion

'I always feel a fizz excitement at putting a car key in my pocket, walking outside and driving away'

Meaden might think he’d fallen out of love with cars, but for one thing…
7 Dec 2021