Backed by an armada of supporters from around the world, Englishman Andy Frost pushed his Red Victor 3 Vauxhall across the finish line to a goal that was a decade in the making this week.
Frost, who hails from Wolverhampton, England, collected four runs in the 5-second zone at the Bahrain International Circuit, including three in excess of 260 MPH, as he marched to a career-best — and career-defining — 5.87-second best elapsed time.
Frost, his team, and his financial supporters had moved heaven and Earth to make a 5-second run a reality. Frost, without the financial means to build a lightweight, state-of-the-art car, set out in 2009 to construct the 1972 Vauxhall VX4/90 FD VXR on a working man’s budget, modifying a steel body to create a longer, racier car. He debuted Red Victor 3 in 2012 and soon set a world record for street-legal, street-driven vehicles at 6.59-seconds. In short order, though, American Larry Larson supplanted Frost as the standard-bearer with his new Chevy S-10, setting in motion one of the most aggressive efforts the sport has ever seen to reclaim the record.
In late 2014, Frost initiated plans to achieve a 5-second run, upgrading virtually every inch of his twin-turbocharged big-block engine combination and removing as much weight as he could feasibly and financially accomplish. The driveline, the suspension, everything was addressed. “We will be upgrading RV3’s powertrain to run in the 5-second zone to bring the street legal record back across the Atlantic, where it resided for two and a half years,” said Frost in December of 2014. “Having watched the huge progress in street legal racing that we started back in 2010, we’re happy that there are finally others who have joined us in the street legal car revolution. That’s what makes it exciting to be a part of it and what drives us on to new heights.”
I’ve achieved everything I could ever hope for in drag racing. There is nothing further on from running a five and going 260 MPH in a street legal car. – Andy Frost
With new heads, a new intake, new turbos — virtually new everything — he debuted the new and improved setup at Santa Pod Raceway in England in 2016, but soon recognized the need for a world-class racing surface, better conditions, and access to elite tuner Shane Tecklenburg in order to achieve a 5-second run. And logistically — given both geography and the fact that Tecklenburg was already there — that place was in Bahrain.
Through what is known as the Red Victor 5-Second Club, Frost raised the enormous funding needed to send he and his operation to Bahrain. In late 2016, the Vauxhall, it’s box-truck hauler, and all of Frost’s worldly racing possessions were loaded onto a ship and transported on a month-long journey to the Middle East. The effort immediately began on a sour note when it was found that the truck had been broken into and a host of needed items stolen. Nevertheless, with the support of Bahrain’s Ebrahim Kanoo, the team bounced back to clock a new best of 6.31. As planned, they returned home to England but left the car in Bahrain, returning weeks later for another attempt. They then took the car home for the year, returning in late 2017 for two additional attempts, at which time they clocked an oh-so-close 6.02. Damage to the engine, however, required they take the car back to England again and regroup. Meanwhile, in the United States, Larson, Jeff Lutz, and later, Tom Bailey, had pushed the street-legal world record well into the fives, forcing Frost to pursue numbers that he was unsure his car could achieve.
Not ready to quit with the goal in sight, though, Frost’s financial supporters rallied, motivating he and his crew to prepare for another shot. Twenty months after their last visit to Bahrain, Frost — with the members of the Red Victor 5-Second Club watching on live on Facebook from around the world — finally did it in the wee hours Wednesday evening, November 13.
The team took one last crack at the track this evening (Bahrain local time), clocking the 5.89 at 259. Unfortunately, damage in the gearbox that would hinder any further improvements forced the team to settle for its 5.87 — just shy of the 5.852 world elapsed time record. Nevertheless, they leave the Middle East satisfied…no, elated.
The five was of particular challenge for Frost and Tecklenburg given the weight of the car — varying from 2,965 to 3,050-pounds throughout its journey — along with its nose-heavy weight bias. Of note is the radiator filled with water, the windows and electric motors, and the liberal use of body filler throughout, resulting in a 54-percent front weight bias. That fact doesn’t allow the team to launch the car as hard as the lighter cars that Larson and Jeff Lutz campaigned. As Frost noted previously: “This car was never designed to go 250-odd.”
It went 263 — the fastest speed ever by a street-legal vehicle.
For Frost, the 5.95 and the subsequent runs of 5.92, 5.87, and 5.89 made the blood, the sweat, the expense, the second-guessing, and all of the tireless nights worth it.
“It means a hell of a lot. Chasing something for five years takes a lot out of people. We never gave it up, and it was sweet getting it in the end. Maybe the sweetest thing I ever did with a car,” he exclaims.
For those keeping score, Frost’s numbers were: 1.072 to 60-feet, 2.733 to 330-feet, 3.962 at 196.75 the 1/8-mile, 5.002 at 1,000-feet, and 5.876 263.74 MPH. Based on the formula of terminal speed and vehicle weight, Tecklenburg produced an estimate of 4,352 horsepower out of the big-block Chevy-based combination.
Tom Bailey, who this year recorded the first official 5-second run in Drag Week competition, credited Frost and team for their tireless pursuit of history.
“He and his team have worked their butt off to get this accomplishment. My phone was blowing up yesterday with the news and as soon as I heard I reached out to both Andy and Shane T and congratulated them. Andy Frost is a champion to me and I would like to explain why: when I won Drag Week in 2013 Andy Frost reached out to me congratulating me on the accomplishment; since then we have communicated back and forth when good things happen for each other and when I ran my five at Drag Week this year, once again Andy congratulated me.”
After so many years laser-focused on one mission — a mission now accomplished — where does the highly-driven, never-say-die Frost go from here?
“Honestly, I’ve achieved everything I could ever hope for in drag racing. There is nothing further on from running a five and going 260 MPH in a street legal car. So, we will run the last couple of days at Bahrain International Circuit, go home and take stock of what we have achieved here. Then, let our supporters know what the next step is.”