We have to assume that the ‘Race Wars’ event in the second half of The Fast And The Furious features a quarter-mile drag strip. Certainly, when the cars reach the finish line, the cars waiting over by the start line don’t look all that far away.
So, with our stopwatches out, we see it takes the S2k which raced Jesse’s VW Jetta 25 seconds to dispatch a standing quarter, some time slower than the 21 seconds a 1960s Austin Mini Cooper can manage.
As Jesse was ‘too soon, junior’ with his nitrous hit, he lost the race. His Jetta crossed the line one second after the S2000.
During The Fast And The Furious’ climactic race between Dom and Brian, Dom mentions that the train track ahead of their start point is "exactly a quarter-mile away from here." It takes the pair 1 minute 31 seconds to reach the train track simultaneously. There are some slow-motion bits, so we’ll knock off about 11 seconds of the time to compensate, bringing the total to a nice round 1 minute 20 seconds.
The current world record for a 400 metre sprint - which is just under a quarter of a mile - is 43.18 seconds. That means a professional sprinter is approximately twice as fast as both these cars; even a runner of average fitness could out-sprint the pair.
Counting from the start of a race early on in 2 Fast 2 Furious, 14 seconds elapse before we see a shot of the Skyline’s speedo reading 50kmh (31mph). At around the 36 second mark, we see a competitor hit 80mph, with the speed rising quickly and presumably topping 100mph shortly after. Brian is only just behind in the Skyline, travelling at around the same speed.
To make working out an estimated power figure easier, we’ll ignore the 0-30 time and just concentrate on the 0-100. To hit 100mph in 40 seconds, you need a car with around 100bhp/tonne. As an R34 GT-R weighs about 1500kg (we’re guessing Brian’s is still around that figure, as whatever weight savings he’s applied are offset by the neon lights and that ridiculous hi-fi), we can only assume this Skyline has around 150bhp. Probably.
During Brian and Roman’s race with the Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger, we see Brian do a handbrake turn at the far end of the run, before heading back to the start line. From the time of the turning point, 40 seconds pass before we see a shot of a speedo hitting 120mph. The rate at which the speed is rising means he probably achieved 124mph (200kmh) a couple of seconds later. Doesn’t sound so bad, until you realise that a bog standard Subaru BRZ will do the same in about 31 seconds…
Car performance isn’t the only area in which the Fast and Furious franchise likes to bend reality. If you’ve seen the sixth instalment in the series, you’ll know at the end of the film there’s a large Antonov Cargo plane hammering down a runway for an incredible 13 minutes, flanked by chasing cars. So just how long is that runway?
Fortunately, I don’t have to make any dubious estimates for this one, as someone has already done it over at BBC News. Dwayne Johnson mentioned in an interview that the cars were travelling at 115mph when driven into the back of the aircraft, so using this figure and subtracting time for scenes inside the aircraft (these are intended to be occurring simultaneously with the exterior scenes within the film’s timeline) the writer came up with an estimated figure of 18.37 miles.
To put that in context, the map above shows what London’s Heathrow airport would look like if its northern runway was lengthened to the east up to that 18.37 mile figure.