One scary MINI John Cooper Works
What do you think is scarier: watching Stanley Kubrick’s seminal horror film, The Shining, or driving a MINI John Cooper Works at pace?
For anyone regularly involved with or interested in cars, having a little blast of acceleration from time to time might seem nothing out of the ordinary.
But according to tests run by the UK’s University of Portsmouth, just having a thrash around a race track can create more excitement in a human than jumping out of a plane, barrelling around on a rollercoaster or proposing to your partner.
The university’s Sport and Exercise Science department ran a series of physical, psychological and physiological tests on a selection of drivers and Niki Faulkner, the stunt driver for Rush and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, while they drove pedal to the metal around the southern UK’s Goodwood circuit in a 231hp MINI John Cooper Works; which is not, by some distance, the fastest car you could ever drive, despite its healthy top speed of 245km/h and 0-100km/h time of 6.3 seconds.
During this time, the test subjects’ self-recorded anxiety levels rose 370 per cent from rest, while the average heart rate doubled to 181 beats per minute (bpm) – an increase four times the size of that recorded while people watched Jack Torrance going slowly nuts at the deserted Overlook Hotel.
Even passengers saw an 80 per cent increase in heart rate to 153bpm, with self-reported anxiety up by 288 per cent. But there is an upside to all this excitement – adrenalin sharpens reaction times, so after a fast drive, the passenger was four per cent more alert and the driver had six per cent faster reaction times.
As a frame of reference, making a marriage proposal records a maximum heart rate of 130bpm, going on a rollercoaster elicits 155bpm and lobbing yourself out of a plane with a parachute on your back peaks at 170bpm.
Dr Chris Wagstaff explains: “In situations of fear and excitement, the body reacts according to a combination of our thoughts and survival instinct – reactions are faster, our heart rate increases. This is part of the evolutionary fight or flight response humans developed many hundreds of years ago. However, in the absence of natural predators to trigger such responses, humans occasionally seek out risks or thrills. Being in a MINI delivered enough exhilaration to activate this response.”
So perhaps Jack Nicholson was wrong to utter his infamous, axe-wielding line at the end of The Shining – instead, he should have said: “Heeeeeeere’s Johnny… Cooper Works.”