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Life As A Car Guy, Interlude 2: The Petrolhead YouTube Hall of Fame

Here’s an idea I totally ripped off from my favorite sports blog, Grantland. I call this the Petrolhead YouTube Hall of Fame. Every so often, I’ll induct five new car-related videos I saw on YouTube that left an impression on me. There are, however, some ground rules: first, no videos of irresponsible driving in public roads. I am a firm advocate of keeping racing on the track, so only videos in closed courses and safe conditions need apply. Second, no scripted feature films – I want to feel authenticity. Last, the videos should feature cars as a central theme, and not just as an accessory to a film.

For the inaugural inductees to my Petrolhead YouTube Hall of Fame, I am choosing ten videos. And without further ado, here are my pick. Enjoy!

1. MotorTrend’s Head 2 Head, with a Lexus LFA, McLaren MP4-12C, Lamborghini Aventador, and Bugatti Veyron

Four of the fastest and most exciting cars in the world, and a series of quarter-mile races. These four cars combine for over 2,800hp and USD2.1 million. Bring it on!

2. Ken Block’s Gymkhana 2

Not the first gymkhana video Ken Block released, but certainly the one that made the series (and him) popular! The use of stunt driving techniques paired with unnecessary-but-awesome-looking elements like breaking fluorescent lights took car videos up a level. Gymkhana 5 (in the streets of San Francisco) is actually my favorite, but Gymkhana 2 is the most important one of the lot.

While you’re at it, check out Ken Block’s complete gymkhana playlist:

3. Moscow Drift

If the Ken Block videos are meant to entertain with camera angles and quirky themes, then Moscow Drift is meant to impress with the photography and dramatic setting. Russian professional drifters Evgeniy Satyukov and Geprgiy Stepanyan take their S15 and S13 Pickup drift cars for a tour around Moscow at night.

4. Subaru Isle of Man TT Record Attempt

The International Isle of Man Tourist Trophy 2011, aka Isle of Man TT, is a yearly motorcycle time trial race held along public roads. It is one of the most challenging and dangerous motorcycle races due to the uneven, tight, twisty, and hilly roads of the Isle of Man. So taking it on full throttle with a car is not just difficult, but near insane. Subaru thought otherwise and had British Rally Champion Mark Higgins go at it in a production version Subaru WRX STi. The previous record had an average speed of 102mph, set in 1990. Higgins set a new record for production car with an average speed of 115mph. He completed the lap in 19’38” and hit a top speed of approximately 160mph. Amazing.

5. Sound of Honda: Ayrton Senna 1989

Ayrton Senna and Japan have an incredibly complex and intense relationship. Senna is regarded as a demigod there, thanks to his amazing performances in Suzuka, as well has his “banzai” style. Honda, using telemetry from an actual lap from the 1989 Japanese GP, recreated Senna’s driving using lights to show his path and speakers to play the sound of his Honda 3.5L V10 in his MP-4/5. The effect is chilling, like watching a ghost from the past come back for an encore. I don’t know what lap it was, but I secretly hope it was Senna’s incredible qualifying lap, where he outpaced second place Alain Prost (also in the same car) by a staggering 1.7 seconds.

6. /DRIVE’s Chris Harris drives a Ferrari F40 and F50. HARD.

You can actually put almost put any Chris Harris /DRIVE video here and it wouldn’t be out of place. But when he takes on the legendary Ferrari F40 (and F50, let’s not forget) and thrashes them around a track, things get inspired. The best thing about this video is the unbridled passion and love you feel from Chris towards these cars. You can feel his excitement and adrenaline flowing as though you were there in the car with him. It’s about as pure a sensation as you can get on a computer screen.

7. Ex-F1 driver Jacques Lafitte Ferrari drives the F40 LM around the track.

I couldn’t help it. When you drive an F40 like it was intended, only good things come. And this is no ordinary F40. The F40 LM (for Le Mans) is a firebreathing 700hp version of the car that Chris drove in the video at number 6. This time, it’s driven by multiple GP winner Jaques Lafitte. And it’s not drifted around. It’s just drive as fast as it possibly can go around a track. If Chris showed the purity of his love for the car, this video shows the purity of the car itself as it was truly intended – to be the fastest car on the track. Turn up the volume for a sound that will send chills down your spine.

8. Racing in Slow Motion

For a pastime that’s all about speed, it’s amazing the joy you get from slowing down the action. This series takes race footage from various motorsport disciplines, sets them to super slow motion, and lets those often small, unnoticed details shine. Combine that with well-chosen music and you get a video that engages the senses. The whole series is awesome (I have a soft spot for the 1993 DTM slow motion video) but this is what started it all.

Other Racing in Slow Motion videos:

9. Ayrton Senna Qualifying Lap, Monaco 1990

The second Senna video here is short. The video quality sucks. The commentary is in French, so I can’t understand it. What makes it special is the setting: in the 1990 Monaco Grand Prix, Ayrton Senna completed a rare perfect weekend (pole position, fastest lap, lead the entire race, won the race). Making this video even more amazing is Senna’s commentary, where he talks about limitations and surpassing those limitations. It’s an inspiring message from a racing immortal.

10. C’était Un Rendez Vous by Claude Lelouch

With this one video, I pretty much broke all my rules. But this film is regarded as the greatest and most important street racing video/hoon of all time, and its historical importance trumps all of the guidelines I set.

In 1976, Claude Lelouch sets off in a car at 5:30am, going on an insanely fast and reckless drive across Paris. Though popular belief is that the car was a Ferrari 275, the car used was actually Lelouch’s Mercedes 450SEL 6.9, chosen for its hydropneumatic suspension which minimized camera vibration. The video was dubbed over with a Ferrari 275 (also owned by Lelouch).

Spoiler alert! At the end of the run, we find out why the driver was in such a hurry: a beautiful girl waiting for him (hence “Rendes Vous”). That girl? Lelouch’s girlfriend, Gunilla Friden, Swedish beauty queen.

The film was finally released to DVD in 2003, and since then the videos have been taken down from YouTube. The next best things would be these:

Clip of the last 2 minutes of the film:

Snow Patrol’s “Open Your Eyes” music video that uses the film as its beckdrop:

Story behind the film:


There you have it! The inaugural inductees to my Petrolhead YouTube Hall of Fame! If you have any suggestions on videos to include, please leave them in the comments section below.

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