Unlike the One Lap of America race, which recently ended, the Houston Half Mile Shootout is a brand new race for 2012. This year it was run in conjunction with the 4th annual Aeros & Autos event at Ellington Airport in Houston, TX.
This race is much like the Texas Mile, as it is purely a top speed-style of race, where your goal is to reach the highest speed within the half-mile-long track. Simple enough, right? Well, driving in excess of 200 mph is never simple, but rules sure are.
This inaugural run includes cars and motorcycles, both street legal and off-road only, which makes for some really intense speeds, but also some utter disappointment. The biggest disappointment that we see is Mario Williams, an NFL Linebacker, running his Aventador down the half-mile track and only hitting 167 mph in the above video. C’mon, man, open her up a little. That’s just getting that $400,000 supercar warmed up.
On top of that, event organizer John Hennessey shows that he is not a football guy, as he calls Mario Williams an “All Pro defensive player from the Houston Texans,” but Williams signed with the Buffalo Bills in March, oops. We have to give Hennessey a pass though, as the video was taken on March 5th and Williams was still a free agent at the time, but he certainly was not a Texan at the time.
Fortunately that was just a warm-up lap, as we saw much more speed as the event went on.
Click past the jump to read more about the event, cool cars and highlights.
We’ll start off by outlining the three classes in this race. The class that most of our cars would fall into is the D1 class. This class covers all cars that have a top speed of up to 165 mph, and regardless of what you think, your Civic Si does not go faster than 165 mph. Heck, my 250+ horsepower Miata doesn’t even exceed 165 mph.
D2 is where the big boys live, as these are the 165+ mph cars. This is where you will see the Aventador, Gallardo, Mercedes SLR, Mustang Cobra, etc. To go along with the extra power and speed, you also get additional safety restrictions, which we’ll get into later.
The final class is for all of those adrenaline junkies that like going fast on two wheels. As scary as it may sound, Class M covers all motorcycles, even a 50 cc scooter, if you please. Actually, we would pay to see that. Of course, there are loads of safety requirements for this class, because if these guys lose control, there is no metal shell to protect them.
Of course there are regulations. What, you thought they would just let people roll out and drive as fast as they can without a little safety?
In D1, the driver must wear 100 percent cotton long pants and long-sleeve shirt. He must also have on a pair of cotton underwear – hmm, guess they check – and socks that go above the ankle. Drivers also need a pair of leather gloves that cover the wrist and a pair of fully enclosed leather shoes. Overtop of their clothing, drivers must have a flame-resistant cotton driving suit, at minimum.
A D1 driver’s helmet must be full or open face and meet Snell SA2005 or SA2010 standards. On open-face helmets, the driver must wear shatter-proof eye protection in lieu of the face shield. If the driver chooses, he can wear a motorcycle helmet that meets M2005 or M2010 specifications in combination with a Nomex head sock.
The car must have a securely mounted 2.5-pound fire extinguisher within the driver’s reach. On drop-top rides, you have to have factory OEM rollover protection installed behind the driver. We find this a little odd, as many cars don’t have the option of factory installed rollover protection. Also, if it is feasible, then convertible top must be up during the run.
The car must also have its factory three-point seatbelts, but a properly installed racing harness is acceptable. Also, the factory airbags must be active. The final requirement for the car is a set of Z- or W speed rated tires.
D2 has significantly higher safety regulations, including requiring a Nomex driving suit that meets or exceeds SFI specification 3.2A/3. If a 3.2A/3 suit is not available, a driver can use a 3.2A/1 suit in conjunction with full Nomex long underwear. Also required is a Nomex head sock, racing gloves, racing socks, and racing shoes.
The driver must also have a racing helmet with a shatter-proof face shield that meets or exceeds Snell SA2005 or SA2010 and he vehicle must also have a horse collar support or a HANS device.
The car must include a 2.5-pound fire extinguisher and a 5-, 6-, or 7-point racing harness with arm restraints that attaches to the car’s frame or roll cage. There is no mention of it, but we assume a minimum of W or Y speed rated tires are a requirement.
For a motorcycle driver to compete, he must wear a full one-piece leather racing suit, over-the-wrist leather racing gloves, and high-top leather riding or racing boots. You are not permitted to wear Kevlar or nylon, only leather is permitted.
A rider’s helmet must meet or exceed Snell M2005, M2010, SA2005, or SA2010 ratings.
Cars of Note
The cars were really as ordinary as you would expect in this competition with very few that were cool or strange enough to note. By far the strangest of the lot was a 2003 Ford F-150. We are not too sure if this was an SVT Lightning model or not, but trim levels are included on most of the models. Even if it was the 380-horsepower SVT Lightning, it is still impressive that it was not dead last, as it beat out a 2000 VW Beetle and a 2006 Mazda RX-8. The latter brings us to our next car of note.
2006 Mazda RX8
We rag on the RX-8 a lot, as it was really one of the worst executed cars in recent history. However, if there is one area that the RX-8 excels, it is top end speed. In a 2006 RX-8, you have a 232-horsepower engine with a near-10,000 rpm redline and a six-speed manual transmission. The RX-8 hits the quarter mile in about 14.5 seconds at 95 mph, so how in the world do you only hit 109 mph in double the distance? By that point, you have already overcome the RX-8’s terrible bottom-end torque and are playing with its strength, high redline and high horsepower, so the only thing we can think of is driver fear. If you come to a race scared, you’re gonna lose or get hurt, and both results are totally uncool.
One other awesome car that catches our eye is a 1986 Toyota Corolla. Seriously, to run an `86 `Rolla in a race takes some guts, but to get that econo-box up to 123.6 mph takes some serious intestinal fortitude. To make matters even better, Brad Burnett and his `86 Toyota smoked the hallowed RX-8 by nearly 20 mph.
The cake taker has to be the 2010 Chevy Impala NASCAR. No, this isn’t some weird special edition that Chevrolet produced, it is the actual Impala SS that was run in NASCAR. Don’t believe us, look at the picture.
The last really bad-ass car we see in the results is a 1993 Toyota Supra that clocked in at an impressive 182.1 mph, just 19 mph less than the leader and fifth place amongst all of the four-wheel machines. Coming in behind a Ford GT, Lamborghini Gallardo, Impala NASCAR, and Lamborghini SL in a 1993 sports car, obviously modded to the gills, is nothing to hang your head about.
We’ll finish everything off with giving you the top-10 finishers in the 1st annual (we hope) Houston Half Mile. The organizers of the race lumped all of the vehicles together, as opposed to separating the bikes from the cars. We will go ahead and do the dirty work of separating them for you, so you can get a clearer idea of the actual results.