Break-neck speed….and racing car projects

Author: Fay MacDonald

How fast can this thing go?


Vroom Vroom

Around 13 years ago I was fortunate enough to have the experience of having a beautiful sports car…a TVR.

It was my pride and joy which I named Alexis / Lexi. I was invited to visit “her” whilst she was being made in the factory near Blackpool, during a 12 week production cycle for the hand-made process.

Lexi the girl TVR ... at the finishing touches stage, 2 weeks before birth.

I adored “her” many qualities:

  • the quality of the handmade finish and it’s wonderful smell and comfort;
  • the deep throaty noise of the V8 engine;
  • the sparkle sheen of “her” special finish metallic paint (starmist grey) which I would polish every week;
  • the fact that the guy who made “her” body had his own special stamp – a face image which was put on the inside of the body (all TVRs have this from the engineer). This was her lineage if you like;
  • the fact that I could fit my golf clubs in the boot of a sports/ racing car;
  • “her” tiny racing car steering wheel for easy turns at speed;
  • the way “she” hugged the road when I took a tight corner;
  • the thrill I once had of an unintentional and very slow 360 degree spin on black ice in winter as I pulled away from the kerb one winter’s morning up north…still hugging the road with massive tyres and still feeling safe!

People obsessed with SPEED

When people would find out that I drove a TVR the question they would mostly ask first is “how fast does it go?” and secondly “what’s the fastest you have gone in it?”.

The fact that I was asked these questions so often made me wonder about why people seem to be so obsessed with speed. I concluded that it could be that the majority of people live in a slower lane for most of their lives:

  • people are so used to driving the family saloon – needing to do lots of miles on the M25 for commuting…I have done that too!; or
  • driving the 4-wheel drive luxury truck (I need it for the kids and all their stuff, really!)

… that they long for a different pace even for a while. They then become mesmerised with a longing for being able to take to the open road at speed.

I often wonder is this what happens to some people in operational type roles at work when they are asked to join a project team. Sometimes these people become obsessed with speed of delivery as they see it as their fast-track chance to be seen to have achieved something…to have won a race!

Racing car style Projects

People who are experienced in large complex projects and programmes know and appreciate that excellence is something which typically cannot be rushed.

Those that have tried to rush it:

  • at best – will miss something out which is important;
  • at worst – will crash disastrously.

Running Red Lights

The film below is by the French film maker Claude Lelouch who filmed the drive of a car at break-neck speed through Paris in the early hours of the morning. Red lights were run, pavements were mounted; all for the objective of speed.

Reactions to this film have been varied:

  • some people love the thrill of it;
  • some people are outraged that such risks were taken;
  • the legal authorities have sought out who the driver was.

There is a further documentary film on the making of the driving film.

To see Claude Lelouche in the second film, it is difficult to imagine that he would have taken such risks.

When we know better we do better…sometimes

There is a saying by the poet Maya Angelou “when we know better we do better”. That is true…sometimes! However, sometimes people still want the thrill of a grip the seat ride at break-neck speed.

When Projects and Programmes run red-lights (cut corners / rush things), in my experience it is usually driven by an in-experienced management team / Project Board with a timid or in-experienced Project Manager who is afraid to argue against the decision and stick to a sensible and sane timeframe.

If you have a maverick like that in your Project…try to coax them out of the car before someone gets hurt!


Let the speed rrriiipp in TVRs rather than a Project… products available on Amazon




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