I don’t understand the fuss about slalom-driving record

On the other hand, make a spot in your memory bank for young driver Chloe Chambers

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Chloe Chambers
16-year-old go-kart racer Chloe Chambers at the wheel of Porsche's 718 Spyder during record run through the cones | Porsche photos

I’ve been busy lately, but was cleaning out my email inbox and came across a news release from Porsche Cars North America about 16-year-old go-kart racer Chloe Chambers getting Guinness World Record acclaim for driving a vehicle through a slalom course.

My first thought was “is there really such a world’s record?” and then “who set the standard?” “is Porsche so desperate for attention?” “does this stunt actually make people run out and buy a 718 Spyder?” and even “does anyone really care?”

Obviously, Porsche Cars North America cars, because young Miss Chambers was driving a 2020 Porsche 718 Spyder which, Porsche notes, “was completely stock, right down to its tires.”

Oh, and one more: “Is Chloe Chambers the next Lewis Hamilton?”

Turns out, she may be just that.

“It looks easy, but it’s really not – to weave between 50 cones as fast as possible, trying to beat a record time and knowing I couldn’t touch a single one for the run to count – I definitely felt the pressure,” she is quoted in Porsche’s news release.

“Everything came together on my final run; the car worked beautifully and I found the grip I needed. Thank you to my family and to Porsche for supporting and believing in me.” 

The former record was set in 2018 in China, we’re told by Porsche. Road & Track reports that the former standard was established by Jia Qian, who steered a Chevrolet Camaro through a 51-cone course in 48.114 seconds. R&T also suggests that we might recognize Chambers from her appearance in David Letterman’s My Next Guest Needs No Introduction television show featuring F1 racing champion Lewis Hamilton, himself a former go-karting prodigy. 

The record run was accomplished in 47.45 seconds on August 21 on the runway of an airport in New Jersey with 51 cones evenly spaced 50 feet apart under the direction of a certified surveyor. Timekeeping was conducted by Racelogic under the supervision of an adjudicator from Guinness World Records.

I’ve inquired from the Guinness press office as to who established the 51 cones at 50 feet as the world record standard. For one thing, if my math is correct, that means the coned course stretches nearly half a mile, much longer than the typical coned section used in car development, testing and evaluation. 

(The response arrived the following day, confirming the two slalom records but with no answer to my question about who established the 50-foot cone separation as the standard for such a record.)

Regardless of length, I wonder if anyone really cares about such a record, especially when it took two years for it to be broken. 

On the other hand, remember the name Chloe Chambers. At 16, she already has Porsche’s attention. 

PS: On Friday, October 2, Subaru of America announced it will seek to set a Guinness record on Sunday, October 4, when it stages a parade of cars as part of the 2020 Subaru Tecnica International Subiefest. More than 2,000 Subaru vehicles are expected to stretch more than 2 miles at the Orange County Fair & Expo Center in Costa Mesa, California. The event begins at 8 a.m. (Pacific time).

The parade also will raise money for Feeding America. For information, visit the Subiefest website.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

5 COMMENTS

    • Rick, You are correct, I am getting old. But that’s not the point. Yes, she is amazing, a name to remember (I was at AutoWeek when we put a go-kart racing youngster from England on our cover), but my point was about slalom as a world record category, and I still question the 51 cones setup as being any sort of standard.

  1. Larry,

    You are right about the abundance of dubious records, but as a Boxster owner and old man, Porsche must hope breaking any record with her promotes the brand to young people. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading!.

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