EIGHT SECOND TRIAL

This film explores the art, science and psychology of drag racing. In September 2010, with only 1 year's experience, 13 year old Paige Wheeler became the youngest ever European Junior Drag Racing Champion.  At regular race meetings during the summer season, hours of preparation culminate in eight seconds of critical psychological, physiological, electronic and mechanical activity.

 

Drag racing is not just about speed. It is about reaction time, about an athlete predicting their race pace, and ensuring they come as close to it as they can. These sportsmen and women are not just competing against each other, they are competing against themselves. Competitors prepare with sophisticated telemetry and computer simulations that allow them to hone their reactions to the point where calculation ends and intuition takes over. In the eight second trial, human and machine, reality and simulation, brain and computer are perfectly merged.

 

At the heart of this film is the way in which the athlete, in this case the driver, perceives and controls time.

Since the invention of cinematography, artists have followed Edweard Muybridge in exploring human perception of time and movement .

 

How is the reaction time of the driver 'perceived' by the computer simulation? Wait for the green light to come on and you have already lost, so how does the racer herself guess when the green light will come on and she has to press the throttle? And how does the driver predict their own drag time with enough accuracy to win in an eight second trial?

 

Paige comes from a generation brought up on computer games that are sophisticated facsimiles of reality. Using and winning against simulations and applying that experience in a real situation comes naturally to her.

This feature length film tells the story of the preparation and execution of a single drag race. Paige's narration measures and reacts to every nuance of her prepration for the race:  Climactic conditions, track temperature, humidity, tyre pressure, fuel mix, the weight and balance of the car, even the weave and chemistry of her fireprooof clothes.  All must be assimilated and processed in order to prepare for the moment when the green light comes on, and the eight second trial begins.

 

Two channel HD Video: work in progress. Cinematography: Ian Dodds.

 

 

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