Mean Green Machine

Mean Green Machine

Despite being honour-bound as an Englishman to have the ‘island mentality’ that makes one deeply suspicious of foreign Johnny’s who don’t speak in the Queen’s tongue, I must confess to having rather a soft spot for the Scandinavians.

Not only do they have a habit of reliably turning out some of the most aesthetically pleasing examples of womenfolk, but they are also a little bit bonkers. I found this out in a pub in Prague a number of years ago when a man from Finland engaged me in a long, beer-fuelled conversation about the sporting luminaries his country had produced. Mostly he talked about millions of rally drivers whose last names end in ‘en’, but I did manage to chip in with footballer Jari Litmanen and strongman Jouko Ahola.

My slight knowledge of Finnish sporting heroes delighted my intoxicated colleague who, by way of reward, regaled me with tales of his Nordic life. Alcohol figured quite highly – as one might expect for a man whose southern neighbour was 5km away and on the northern side had no human life between himself and the North Pole – as did snowmobiling, reindeer farming, driving sideways and hunting bears.

Life towards to the Arctic Circle is seemingly a little bereft of what we would consider to be normal pastimes. And I suppose it shouldn’t really come as a surprise – if you’re the kind of person who voluntarily lives in an environment where it can drop below -50°C and consider the height of bad manners to be asking a man how many reindeer he owns, being captain of the local cricket team just isn’t going to get you out of bed in the mornings.

Not that green, but mean as

So step in Boije Ovebrink, possibly the nuttiest example of the breed yet discovered. Yes, he may come from Sweden, which isn’t quite as tetchy about reindeer questions and generally only gets down to a positively balmy -30°C, but he is the man at the reigns of Mean Green, the world’s fastest truck.

The 2100bhp Volvo – 200bhp of which is provided by an electric motor in what is probably the most tenuous claim of green credentials ever – has, this week, hurtled down the runway at Wendover airfield in Utah, clocking a staggering 95.245mph average over a standing kilometre and 147.002mph for a flying run over the same distance.

Impressive numbers for sure, but it does beg the question; why?

Despite what those of you who have had an enormous semi-truck stuck up their chuff on State Highway 1 may think, these road leviathans are not built for speed. Yes, it’s useful if they can bindle along at such a pace that any perishable cargo doesn’t expire before reaching the its destination, but the gargantuan horsepowers and mountainous torques are mainly there to ensure a trailer load of very heavy things can be pulled from A to B.

There is no feat of speed, handling or endurance that Mean Green could perform that a smaller, lither car with superior power to weight ratios couldn’t eclipse with minimal effort. Yes, the truck may well be capable of beating a stock standard Ferrari down a drag strip, but put it up against Jenson Button in his company car and see what happens.

And this leaves only one conclusion that can sensibly be drawn; Mean Green is utterly pointless.

Yet this is also what makes it utterly, utterly wonderful. Let’s face it; if we only ever did things that made sense the world would be a very, very dull place. Everyone would drive a Toyota Corolla, pretty women would shun lingerie in favour of knickers that you could go camping in and no-one would ever order a mutton phall at Indian restaurants.

The world needs more people like Boije and his team who instead of asking ‘Why?’ choose to ask ‘Why not?’ instead. Because in doing so, they can produce things – in this case a phenomenal piece of engineering – that, while they may not move the human race forward in any great leaps or bounds, brighten our lives by making the world that bit more fun and that little bit crazier.

In fact, just that little bit more Scandinavian.

Despite being honour-bound as an Englishman to have the ‘island mentality’ that makes one deeply suspicious of foreign Johnny’s who don’t speak in the Queen’s tongue, I must confess to having rather a soft spot for the Scandinavians.

Not only do they have a habit of reliably turning out some of the most aesthetically pleasing examples of womenfolk, but they are also a little bit bonkers. I found this out in a pub in Prague a number of years ago when a man from Finland engaged me in a long, beer-fuelled conversation about the sporting luminaries his country had produced. Mostly he talked about millions of rally drivers whose last names end in ‘en’, but I did manage to chip in with footballer Jari Litmanen and strongman Jouko Ahola.

My slight knowledge of Finnish sporting heroes delighted my intoxicated colleague who, by way of reward, regaled me with tales of his Nordic life. Alcohol figured quite highly – as one might expect for a man whose southern neighbour was 5km away and on the northern side had no human life between himself and the North Pole – as did snowmobiling, reindeer farming, driving sideways and hunting bears.

Life towards to the Arctic Circle is seemingly a little bereft of what we would consider to be normal pastimes. And I suppose it shouldn’t really come as a surprise – if you’re the kind of person who voluntarily lives in an environment where it can drop below -50°C and consider the height of bad manners to be asking a man how many reindeer he owns, being captain of the local cricket team just isn’t going to get you out of bed in the mornings.

Not that green, but mean as

So step in Boije Ovebrink, possibly the nuttiest example of the breed yet discovered. Yes, he may come from Sweden, which isn’t quite as tetchy about reindeer questions and generally only gets down to a positively balmy -30°C, but he is the man at the reigns of Mean Green, the world’s fastest truck.

The 2100bhp Volvo – 200bhp of which is provided by an electric motor in what is probably the most tenuous claim of green credentials ever – has, this week, hurtled down the runway at Wendover airfield in Utah, clocking a staggering 95.245mph average over a standing kilometre and 147.002mph for a flying run over the same distance.

Impressive numbers for sure, but it does beg the question; why?

Despite what those of you who have had an enormous semi-truck stuck up their chuff on State Highway 1 may think, these road leviathans are not built for speed. Yes, it’s useful if they can bindle along at such a pace that any perishable cargo doesn’t expire before reaching the its destination, but the gargantuan horsepowers and mountainous torques are mainly there to ensure a trailer load of very heavy things can be pulled from A to B.

There is no feat of speed, handling or endurance that Mean Green could perform that a smaller, lither car with superior power to weight ratios couldn’t eclipse with minimal effort. Yes, the truck may well be capable of beating a stock standard Ferrari down a drag strip, but put it up against Jenson Button in his company car and see what happens.

And this leaves only one conclusion that can sensibly be drawn; Mean Green is utterly pointless.

Yet this is also what makes it utterly, utterly wonderful. Let’s face it; if we only ever did things that made sense the world would be a very, very dull place. Everyone would drive a Toyota Corolla, pretty women would shun lingerie in favour of knickers that you could go camping in and no-one would ever order a mutton phall at Indian restaurants.

The world needs more people like Boije and his team who instead of asking ‘Why?’ choose to ask ‘Why not?’ instead. Because in doing so, they can produce things – in this case a phenomenal piece of engineering – that, while they may not move the human race forward in any great leaps or bounds, brighten our lives by making the world that bit more fun and that little bit crazier.

In fact, just that little bit more Scandinavian.

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