The veteran hoonigan showed how it’s done
The legendary Jean Ragnotti hooning with the Renault 5 Maxi Turbo
The latest event of World Series by Renault was held at Hungaroring, Budapest last weekend. The weather was miserable on Saturday, but as this was the first time I saw Formula cars racing live it was a memorable experience. I've never thought that those beasts were capable of splashing the rainwater 10 meters high, and that you really can't see much of the field after the fourth or fifth car passes you by.
The sun was out again on Sunday and a huge crowd gathered at Hungaroring – no wonder, as entry was free, and this is the event that captures the spirit of touring carraces and the F-1 best. Anyone was allowed to go into the paddocks and have a good look at the machines and the mechanics. In between the races the crowd was entertained by programmes such as the Infiniti Red Bull F1 show, the Renault race truck show, and the Renault Sport show. And let's not forget about the girls at the boxes, delegated by Totalcar, who did their best to portray the Totalcar logo in 3D.
As Renault plans to re-launch the Alpine brand, the in-house drivers were parading Alpine models made between 1955 and 1995 during the Renault Classic show. That alone wouldn't have been anything special, so they let an overweening fathead loose on the asphalt. The 30-something Renault 5 Maxi looked like a dwarf suffering from inferiority complex pumped up by Synthol. The Renault 5 is a small car, but thanks to the wide body kit and the spoilers it ballooned to twice its original size, which really is something for a R5 Maxi. The 350 PS turbo engine fitted in the place of the back seats drives the rear tires.
Renault's in-house driving legend, 68 year-old Jean Ragnotti proved that age is but a number racing in the finishing straight and pirouetting with breath-taking precision. He didn't just put on a show near the home stretch, he was drifting in every possible curve even spinning the R5 in places no one could see him. In one minute he was spinning the car around among museum piece Alpines, in the next he was coming from the opposite direction. At one point he jumped out of the moving car, hopped onto its rear spoiler to greet the crowd, then ran after the car and jumped back in. Did I mention he is 68?
Naturally, I fastened a camera into his car for a round. The GoPro from the editorial office went flat and refused all my attempts at recharging it, but I'm not one to put up with such mishaps, so I asked for some zipties and fastened my iPhone onto the mount of the GoPro. The installation looked tatty, but given that it could only be fitted to the inside of the bare roof panel which was shaking like jelly, the recorded footage turned out to be surprisingly decent. Of course the recording of the sound would've been priceless in itself.
Monsieur Ragnotti gave his all, burning rubber in the finishing line and in the curves, arriving in front of the spectators drifting. When the show was over he returned to the area cordoned off for Renault, but noticing me still recording each of his moves he was quick to decorate the asphalt with black tire marks, completely unworried about the fact that the other race cars and the service truck were parking just a few metres away. With perfect timing and a single pull of the handbrake he stopped the spinning car in the perfect angle to reverse it back into its box with elegant ease.
You old hoonigan! I am not worthy.
Die-hard petrol heads will be pleased to read that we have also made a longer version of the video, highlighting the sound of the engine.
Can't get enough? Let's make a deal. I also have a 20-minute long on-board recording, plus a recording of the engine warm-up. Now, I am not selfish, I will gladly share it with you. On one condition: please help totalcarmagazine.hu get new followers on Facebook! Spread the word, recommend us and share us with English-speaking friends and family. If the page gets 50 new likes today (see, I am not insatiable), I will share my treasures with you. Deal?